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The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Judge Leslie Southwick to the federal appeals court in New Orleans after Republicans overpowered objections by Democrats who said he wasn’t sensitive enough to the region’s history of race relations.

The 59-38 vote, a rare Republican victory in a Democratic-led Senate, was sealed after the nomination survived its main obstacle, a test tally moments earlier in which a dozen Democrats sided with Republicans to thwart a filibuster. That left Democrats without the power to block Southwick’s confirmation, even after a heated debate that raised the pain of civil rights struggles in the 5th Circuit, which serves Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

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