GOP breaks filibuster of controversial circuit court judge

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell leaves the Senate floor after speaking at the US Capitol in December 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Edelman/Getty Images)

(CNN)Senate Republicans voted on Tuesday to advance the nomination of Kenneth Kiyul Lee to be a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, overcoming a Democratic filibuster of the conservative lawyer who drew criticism for his college-era writings about gay sex, affirmative action and other issues.

The party-line vote was 50-45. A final confirmation vote will likely take place Wednesday.
President Donald Trump nominated Lee to the left-leaning bench that hears cases from several Western states, despite opposition from California's two Democratic senators -- Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris -- who did not return his "blue slip," a fading tradition in the Senate Judiciary Committee that has allowed senators to weigh in on the selection of judges in their states even if the president is of a different party.
In his controversial college writings, which Democrats accused Lee of trying to hide from the committee, Lee said gay men got AIDS at a higher rate than heterosexual men because gay men are more promiscuous.
    At his confirmation hearing in March, he apologized for both the difficulty he had locating some of his past articles and for his arguments about gay men, saying they were the misguided thoughts of an 18-year-old who "didn't know anything."
      His college writings critical of affirmative action and other subjects were also scrutinized by Democrats.
      Lee is one of two judicial nominations opposed by Democrats the Senate may confirm this week. The other is Wendy Vitter, picked to be a district court judge in Louisiana, who has drawn fire from Democrats for her views on abortion.