(CNSNews.com) - In a vote of 12 to 7, with three Democrats breaking rank, the Senate Judiciary Committee (10 Democrats, 9 Republicans) voted Thursday to confirm the nomination of Pennsylvania Judge D. Brooks Smith to the federal bench.
It's been more than eight months since President Bush nominated Brooks to serve on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.
Liberal groups opposed his nomination, but Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) was quoted as saying he expects at least one Democrat on the Judiciary Committee to help send Smith's nomination to the full Senate for a confirmation vote.
President Bush has blamed Senate Democrats for a "vacancy crisis" on the federal bench. He said Democrats should avoid partisanship and get on with the job of confirming his judicial nominees.
Concerned Women for America praised the vote, saying, "Judge Smith is a man of noble character, and we are proud to see his name recommended to the Senate."
According to CWA President Sandy Rios, "the strong ethics of men like Judge Smith should never be subjected to smear campaigns like those mounted against Brooks Smith by the National Organization for Women.
"Despite such partisan tactics, CWA will continue to defend judicial nominees who have proven themselves worthy of the bench. These nominees deserve justice, just as we expect them to administer justice in the courts," she said in a statement.
Thomas Jipping, J.D., senior fellow in legal studies for CWA, said called the case against Smith "bogus from the start."
"The Judiciary Committee properly rejected the false and misleading charges leveled against this decent, highly qualified nominee," Jipping said.
"Those who support an impartial, independent judiciary must re-double their efforts to avoid the sort of partisan, ideological campaign against solid nominees like Judge Smith," he said, calling on the Senate to "immediately" hold a floor vote to confirm Smith.
The Free Congress Foundation said Smith "is a qualified, experienced judge who merits confirmation."
"His ABA rating - called the 'gold standard' by Democrats - is the highest possible, he has strong support from members of both parties, and despite repeated attempts to smear him, his reputation is still excellent. The last time the full Senate voted on Judge Smith, he was unanimously confirmed," said John Nowacki, the group's director of legal policy.
See Earlier Story:
Vote Delayed On Conservative Appeals Court Nominee (May 16, 2002)