Senate confirms Brown
Once-filibustered nominee heads to federal appeals court
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Senate confirmed Janice Rogers Brown to a federal appellate court seat Wednesday -- clearing what was a long-stalled nomination. The vote was 56-43.
Democrats had blocked Brown's confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia for two years by threatening filibusters.
Democrats called Brown, a California Supreme Court justice, "one of President Bush's most ideological and extreme judicial nominees," in the words of Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois.
Opponents were particularly critical of Brown's views on corporate liability and abortion rights.
Republicans had long argued that all of Bush's nominees deserved to be voted on in the GOP-dominated chamber.
The impasse over filibusters ended last month when a group of 14 moderate lawmakers agreed to take the nominations of Brown and two other judges to the Senate floor for an up-down vote.
Under the deal, seven Democrats promised to cut off debate on the nominations and force a vote. In exchange, seven Republicans pledged to oppose Majority Leader Bill Frist's efforts to eliminate filibusters of judicial nominations altogether.
Priscilla Owen, another of the three judges covered under the deal, was confirmed last week to a seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Senators voted 67-32 Wednesday evening to end debate on the nomination of a third judge, William Pryor, who already sits on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia, through a presidential recess appointment.
Frist said a final vote on Pryor, a former Alabama attorney general, will come Thursday afternoon, and Wednesday's decision shows Pryor has "overwhelming bipartisan support."