By Lisa Mascaro
6:57 PM EST, January 13, 2014
WASHINGTON - The Senate on Monday confirmed President Obama's remaining nominee to the influential D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, relying on new rules imposed by Democrats in November to overcome a Republican filibuster.
On a vote of 55 to 43, the Senate confirmed Robert L. Wilkins, who had been rejected by Republicans two months ago. The change in Senate rules allowed Wilkins, a judge on the D.C. District Court, to be confirmed by a simple majority.
The confirmation ends for now the battle over the 11-seat appellate court, which is often considered second to the U.S. Supreme Court in its influence.
Obama had nominated Wilkins and two others to the court last summer, only to see their confirmations blocked by GOP filibusters.
Democrats argued that Republicans were blocking the White House’s nominees on political grounds.
Republicans countered that Obama was trying to pack the court with liberal allies, and said the court was not busy enough to require that all its judicial positions be filled.
Obama had called Wilkins a "principled attorney of the utmost integrity" in nominating him to the bench.
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