RI lawyer confirmed as US judge; GOP block fails

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A trial lawyer nominated by President Barack Obama to be a federal judge in Rhode Island was confirmed on a party-line vote Wednesday just hours after a Senate GOP filibuster attempt failed.

The Senate voted 50-44 to confirm lawyer John McConnell to the bench after a more significant 63-33 tally to advance the nomination past a filibuster orchestrated by GOP leaders.

Eleven Republicans joined with Democrats in the earlier vote to break the filibuster. GOP leaders opposed McConnell, citing his record as a trial lawyer in cases against businesses. Republicans also said McConnell was less than truthful in his testimony to the Senate.

Wednesday's vote comes six years after the Republicans then in control of the Senate considered a change in procedures to make it impossible to filibuster judicial nominations, citing numerous Democratic efforts to stall former President George W. Bush's nominees. Democrats said Republicans were being hypocritical in now trying to filibuster a Democratic nominee.

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