WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- In a 13-6 vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee has recommended the approval of Rhode Island lawyer Jack McConnell's nomination to the U.S. District Court in Rhode Island.

McConnell's nomination now heads to the full Senate for a vote on the nomination. If confirmed, McConnell would fill Ernest Torres vacant seat. Torres retired last year.

McConnell, nominated by President Barack Obama, was recommended by Democratic Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse. In a joint statement, Reed and Whitehouse said that McConnell holds the experience and temperament necessary to be a judge.

The nomination of McConnell, is a major Democratic donor and was involved as a trial lawyer in both Rhode Island's high-profile lead paint litigation and a nationwide $248 billion tobacco settlement, was greatly contested by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (The U.S. Chamber's Institute for Legal Reform owns

"While the outcome of the Senate Judiciary Committee's 13-6 vote today to approve the nomination of John 'Jack' McConnell was not unexpected, we were encouraged by the vocal concerns raised by members of the committee about his fitness to serve a lifetime appointment to the federal bench," ILR President Lisa A. Rickard said Thursday. "Specifically, these members voiced concerns that we share about Mr. McConnell's questionable 'results-oriented' judicial philosophy, his deeply held biases against America's job creators, his outsized political contributions and related concerns about 'pay-to-play' activities, and his future conflict of interest related to annual multi-million-dollar payments from his work with plaintiffs' law firms."

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