The Senate approved a top federal judgeship on Thursday for an architect of the Obama administration’s legal foundation for killing American terror suspects overseas with drones, as Democrats overcame opposition by Republicans and quelled concerns by some civil libertarians.

By a near party-line 53-45 vote, senators confirmed David Barron to join the Boston-based 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals. Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia were the only lawmakers to cross party lines and vote against the confirmation.

President Barack Obama’s pick of Barron for the job last September drew criticism from members of both parties. It became a proxy fight over drone attacks on Americans abroad who the administration believed were terrorists, including those not on a battlefield. Also contentious was the administration’s refusal to divulge documents showing why it believes it has the constitutional right to kill US citizens without trial.

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