WASHINGTON The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed Stuart Kyle Duncan to a lifetime New Orleans-based seat on the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, overcoming objections from Democrats and liberal groups.

The narrow 50-47 vote broke down almost entirely along party lines, with all Republicans backing Duncan and with Sen. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, the only Democrat to cross the aisle to vote for Duncan's confirmation. The vote was the final obstacle between Duncan and a permanent appointment to the influential federal appeals court.

Duncan, 46, has been a lightning rod for criticism from liberal groups since President Donald Trump tapped him for the job. A Baton Rouge native and LSU law school graduate, Duncan has built a national reputation fighting a host of social-conservative legal battles and argued a number of prominent cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Why judicial nominees Wendy Vitter, Kyle Duncan in liberal groups' cross-hairs

NYT Op-Ed: Kyle Duncan's track record shows he's unfit to be judge, says wife of former Louisiana death row inmate

Conservative and anti-abortion groups — a number of which purchased television and radio ads urging his confirmation — hailed the news on Tuesday. Both of Louisiana's U.S. senators, Republicans Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, took to the floor of the U.S. Senate to back Duncan.

Cassidy on Tuesday called Duncan "a top-notch lawyer who is committed to defending the Constitution." Kennedy, declaring himself "proud to have voted for him," praised Duncan's experience and his "strict interpretation of the Constitution." 

Duncan is generally considered a sharp — even brilliant — litigator in legal circles. But his extensive work on polarizing high-profile cases has made him a particularly divisive pick for the court. During his career, Duncan has defended controversial voter ID laws in North Carolina and Texas, restrictions on Louisiana abortion laws, and bans on marriage and adoption for same-sex couples.

He's perhaps best known for successfully leading retailer Hobby Lobby's fight against covering contraception under its employee health plans. The U.S. Supreme Court sided with the firm, ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that the owner's Christian beliefs allowed them to ignore a federal law requiring health plans to cover birth control.

That résumé has made Duncan a star in conservative legal circles — and led a number of civil rights, abortion rights and other liberal groups to single him out as a particularly threatening Trump pick for the federal bench.

Several Democratic senators denounced Duncan in blunt terms earlier in the day during a call with reporters in a last-ditch effort to derail his nomination.

"Kyle Duncan is almost a 'Saturday Night Live' caricature of the judicial nominees who have come from the Trump administration," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "I’ve said that these judicial nominees are legal neanderthals, and Kyle Duncan is straight out of the Stone Age."

Sens. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and Patty Murray, D-Washington, joined Blumenthal on the call. So did U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat and the District of Columbia's nonvoting delegate to Congress.

"Duncan’s record clearly shows he is on the far-right fringe, and he has advanced an ideological agenda to diminish voting rights, LGBTQ equality, immigrants’ rights and women’s reproductive freedom," Vanita Gupta, who led the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division under former President Barack Obama and now heads the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said in a statement denouncing Duncan's confirmation.

Kyle Duncan's nomination to 5th Circuit advances out of U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee

Our Views: Duncan, Vitter 'the worst' candidates for judgeship? Far from it; Senate should confirm both

Duncan is just the second Trump nominee for a Louisiana-based federal judgeship to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Terry Doughty, a north Louisiana district court judge, was confirmed 98-0 last month.

A number of other judicial nominees — including current New Orleans federal District Judge Kurt Engelhardt, whom Trump also nominated for a seat on the Fifth Circuit — remain pending before the U.S. Senate.

Escalating partisan political battles over the federal judiciary have helped slow the Senate confirmation process. Democrats have used a number of procedural ploys to drag out votes on the Senate floor.

Democrats forced a major showdown over Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch's nomination last spring, at least in part as payback for the nine-month-long refusal by Senate Republicans to consider Obama's nominee for the same seat, Merrick Garland.

That led Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnnell to change the Senate rules in order to allow U.S. Supreme Court justices to be confirmed with a simple majority vote. Former Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid lowered the threshold for lower-court nominees in 2013 in response to Republican objections to Obama picks for the federal courts.

Previous rules required a 60-vote majority to break a filibuster on federal judicial nominees.

Follow Bryn Stole on Twitter, @BrynStole.