Filibuster weakened, Senate OK'ing judges faster

WASHINGTON (AP) — First, Democrats curbed Senate filibusters.

Now, they're aggressively pushing President Barack Obama's judicial nominees through the chamber. They're speeding confirmations and shrinking vacant judgeships to their lowest level since days after Obama took office.

The Democratic drive comes with the party facing November elections that could turn over Senate control to Republicans. That would make it harder for Obama to win approval for judges during his final two years in office.

Since Democrats made it harder for Republicans to use filibusters to derail nominations last November, the Senate has confirmed 54 of Obama's judicial choices. At least three more face votes this week.

By contrast, the Senate filled 36 judgeships in the first 11 months of 2013 before the filibuster was weakened. It approved 49 in all of 2012.

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