Jessica M. Karmasek Dec. 12, 2013, 1:00pm

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- The U.S. Senate, in a late-night vote, confirmed Cornelia "Nina" Pillard to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Shortly after 1 a.m. Thursday, senators voted 51-44 to approve Pillard's nomination to the D.C. Circuit, considered the second most important court in the nation.

Pillard currently serves as a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center.

GOP senators blocked the law professor's nomination last month. They also held up Patricia Millett and Robert Leon Wilkins' nominations, arguing the D.C. Circuit doesn't need more than its current eight judges.

The Senate changed its rules last month in response to Republicans' obstruction.

Under the rules change, a simple majority of senators, or 51 votes, ends debate on executive branch nominees and nominees to federal district and appeals courts -- which is exactly the amount of votes Pillard received.

Before the change, a 60-vote majority was needed for the approval of presidential nominees.

Millett was confirmed by the Senate Tuesday. A vote is expected on Wilkins' nomination later this week.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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