Senate confirms drone memo author

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The Senate narrowly voted Thursday to confirm the author of memos justfying drone strikes against U.S. citizens to a federal court.

In a 53-45 vote, the Senate confirmed David Barron to serve on the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

The successful vote came after the administration said it would make public the memos Baron authored on the drone program. 

Lawmakers in both parties had raised objections to Barron because of the memos, forcing the administration to meet with Senate Democrats last week to shore up support.

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Two Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Mary Landrieu (La.), voted with Republicans against the nomination. Landrieu faces a tough reelection race in November.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said he threw his support behind the nominee after the adminsitration's move to make the memos public. Despite being a critic of the U.S. drone program, Wyden said the White House's release of documents was a show of good faith.

But Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said that wasn’t good enough for him and that he was disturbed by the content of the memos.

“I believe it’s about what the memos themselves say,” Paul said. “I rise in opposition of the killing of American citizens without trial. Any nominee who rubber stamps and grants that power to the president is not worthy of being one step away from the Supreme Court.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said Paul’s filibuster of the Barron nomination was purely “political posturing.”

On Wednesday, the Senate voted 52-43 to end debate on Barron’s nomination. Democrats were successful because of reformed Senate rules that allow most nominations to advance by simple majority instead of the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.

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