David Yates Jan. 15, 2014, 6:27pm

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The National Bar Association is applauding the confirmation of Judge Robert Wilkins to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which was made possible thanks to the U.S. Senate changing the law to bypass a Republican filibuster.

On Monday the Senate, on a vote of 55-43, confirmed President Obama's nominee, Wilkins, to the federal court - a court regarded as one of the most influential in the U.S.

Prior to the Nov. 21 rule change, judicial nominees needed 60 votes instead of the 51 now needed.

"This has a (sic) been a long and hard fight for Judge Wilkins," said Bar President Patricia Rosier said in a press release.

"Judge Wilkins is an extraordinary jurist and is a highly regarded member of the bar and his community. The Senate's vote was a triumph not only for the National Bar Association, but also for the people of the District of Columbia."

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals handles cases involving White House activities and discerns federal regulations.

Republican senators had been arguing the court did require an additional judge.

However, not everyone agreed with the reasoning behind the right's efforts to block the nomination, especially Marge Baker, executive vice president of People For the American Way.

"[Monday's] vote sends a supremely qualified and capable nominee to the nation's second most influential court. It also puts an end to Senate Republicans' dishonest effort to keep President Obama from filling vacancies on the D.C. Circuit, an effort that was destructive and transparently political," said Baker.

"Now that the D.C. Circuit's seats are full, it can get on with its important work for the American people. And just as importantly, if the Senate can put petty partisan fights behind it, it can get on with doing the American people's work as well, including filling the other long-vacant federal court seats across the country."

From Legal Newsline: Reach David Yates at elections@legalnewsline.com.

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