Senate Confirms Obama Judge After Filibuster Rules Change

The Senate confirmed one of President Obama's stalled judicial picks for the D.C. Circuit Court today, the first judicial nominee confirmed since the Senate changed the rules to effectively end the use of the filibuster on most judicial nominees.

The Senate voted 56 to 38 to confirm Patricia Millett as a judge to the D.C. Circuit Court.

"I'm pleased that in a bipartisan vote, the Senate has confirmed Patricia Millett to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, filling a vacancy that has been open since 2005," President Obama said in a statement. "Ms. Millett is a leading appellate lawyer who has made 32 arguments before the Supreme Court, the second-most by a female advocate. She has served in the Department of Justice for both Democratic and Republican Presidents. I'm confident she will serve with distinction on the federal bench."

Two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, voted in favor of Millett's confirmation.

Millett was among a handful of Obama's judicial nominees whose confirmation was stalled this year because they could not secure the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster. Last month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid invoked the so-called "nuclear option," changing the number of votes needed to clear a procedural hurdle on all judicial nominees except the Supreme Court to 51.

The move cleared the way for a number of judicial nominees who had previously been blocked due to a Republican filibuster.

"By refusing to allow a vote for any existing vacancy on the D.C. Circuit, Republicans took their determined obstruction to an unprecedented level," Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said today. "Now that the Senate has changed its precedents to overcome the escalating obstruction of some, I hope reasonable Republicans will join us in restoring the Senate's ability to fulfill its constitutional duties."

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