Senate confirms Trump judicial nominee for federal court

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The GOP-led Senate on Thursday confirmed one of President Donald Trump's federal court nominees, his 12th circuit judge — the most for a president's first year in office since the creation of circuit courts in 1891, Republicans say.

The Senate voted 53-43 to confirm James C. Ho to serve on the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Republicans have gone into overdrive to get Trump's judicial nominees confirmed. Ho's confirmation allows Trump to eclipse the previous record of 11 circuit judges who were confirmed during the first year of the presidencies of Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy.

By comparison, the Senate confirmed three of Democrat Barack Obama's circuit judge selections in his first year.

Senate Republicans cited records maintained by the Federal Judicial Center dating to the late 1800s to make the case that Trump had secured a record number of circuit court confirmations for his first year.

"Today, the Senate will continue another historic week confirming more of President Trump's impressive judicial nominees to the federal bench," Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said before the vote.

Ho is a partner in a Dallas-based law firm. Before that, he served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and as chief counsel to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. Ho also worked at the Justice Department.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, voiced concern with the pace of confirmations, saying it did not allow time for senators to vet the nominees thoroughly.

She noted that during Obama's final two years in office, 22 judicial nominees were confirmed, the fewest in a Congress since Harry Truman was president.

"Republicans went from delaying all nominees to cramming them through at a breakneck pace," Feinstein said.

Republicans have only needed a simple majority to get district and circuit judges confirmed after Democrats changed the rules in 2013, lowering the threshold for ending debate. The change has been a boon to Republicans as they no longer need 60 votes to secure a confirmation.

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