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U.S. Senate confirms court nominee who wrote drone memo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed the nomination of David Barron as a federal appeals court judge following controversy over a memorandum he wrote for the Obama administration authorizing drone strikes against U.S. citizens.

Barron's nomination was approved by 53-45 the day after senators cleared an important procedural hurdle and voted to limit debate on his nomination for the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which reviews cases from lower federal courts in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Puerto Rico.

Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky failed on Wednesday to get the chamber to delay votes until the Obama administration releases a memo Barron wrote in 2010 laying the groundwork for a 2011 drone attack in Yemen that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen who was an al Qaeda leader.

The Justice Department is expected to make the memo public after classified information is redacted. White House spokesman Jay Carney said that senators have had access to the unredacted version of the memo for their review.

Barron was a high-ranking official in the Department of Justice office of legal counsel and is now a Harvard Law School professor.

(Reporting by Peter Cooney; Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)