Updated 6:56 p.m.
The Senate narrowly defeated a block this afternoon on the nomination of Andrew Hurwitz, a nominee for a spot on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, overcoming opposition from some Republicans who took issue with his history with Roe v. Wade.
Senate Democrats had to force a vote to stop debate on the nomination of Hurwitz, an Arizona Supreme Court justice, who authored a law review in 2002 that some Republicans said showed how he helped create and still admires the legal framework for the controversial abortion decision.
In a motion to get around the block, called a cloture vote, Democrats needed 60 "yes" votes. They got 60, making it likely that he'll soon be the third new Ninth Circuit justice to be confirmed since May 7. There were 31 votes to uphold the block.
Senate rules require that the confirmation vote be held sometime later this week, possibly as early as Tuesday — where he will only need 50 votes to get a spot on the nation's busiest federal appeals court.
During debate before Monday’s vote, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) acknowledged that the vote would be close, and called on colleagues to stop choosing one issue from decades ago to oppose a candidate.
“This is a highly qualified nominee for the busiest circuit in the country and a circuit that has a judicial emergency,” Feinstein said. “His record is unimpeachable.”
Both of Hurwitz's home-state senators, Arizona Republican Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain, support his confirmation. That bipartisan support means Democrats don’t consider him to be a highly controversial nominee.
Hurwitz has argued cases before Supreme Court, got the highest score on the state bar exam, taught at law school and is on advisory committee for federal rules of evidence.
Some Republicans opposed Hurwitz because of a New York Law School Law Review article that detailed his work as a clerk for Jon Newman, a district judge for the District of Connecticut whose decisions struck down laws restricting abortion.
Hurwitz helped draft Newman’s decisions, which included a limit on when during a pregnancy an abortion could occur, decisions that were later influential in forming Roe. Hurwitz recounted in the article how, when he was applying for a clerkship on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Potter Stewart jokingly referred to him “as the clerk who wrote the Newman opinion.”