The Senate Judiciary Committee has voted to recommend former Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor for a lifetime appointment on the federal bench.
The development sends the nomination to the Senate floor where a contentious fight looms over the use of the filibuster.
After debating the nomination for almost two hours, the panel approved Pryor on a ten to eight vote along party lines. All Republicans, including Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, supported Pryor while all Democrats opposed him.
Pryor currently holds a temporary seat on Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, because President Bush last year placed him on the court as a recess appointment.
For Pryor to win a lifetime appointment, the full Senate must confirm him by the end of the year.
Pryor enjoys majority support in the Senate, but Democrats again plan to use the filibuster to avoid a vote. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has threatened to disallow future filibusters in order to force a vote on Pryor and other judicial nominees, a move Democrats have labeled the "nuclear option."