Senate Democrats have approved a key judicial nominee from President Barack Obama, the first nomination cleared since they weakened Senate filibuster rules.
The Senate voted 56-38 to approve Washington lawyer Patricia Millett's nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
Both sides saw Millett's appointment as pivotal. It will give Democrats a 5-4 majority on the powerful court, which handles rules on White House actions and appeals on the legality of federal agency rules.
Republicans voted en masse against Millett, despite raising few objections to her credentials. Democrats hope push through two other nominees to the D.C. Circuit before the end of next week as well as Obama's picks to head the Federal Reserve, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
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