Ann Maher Jun. 18, 2014, 9:18am

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed O'Fallon attorney Staci Yandle to a federal judgeship at U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

She will serve in Benton, replacing U.S. District Judge Phil Gilbert who took senior status in March.

The Senate approved Yandle by a vote of 52-44, mainly along party lines.

Yandle's nomination was driven by Sen. Dick Durbin D-Ill., who championed Yandle for "her extensive trial experience, her commitment to her community and her record of professional integrity."

Sen. Mark Kirk R-Ill. voted against Yandle's confirmation, which marked a departure from the senators' normally "collaborative" relationship, noted the Chicago Sun-Times.

Kirk said in a statement, "During my interview with Staci Yandle, it was clear to me that she had insufficient federal court or criminal law experience to be confirmed as a federal judge for the Southern District of Illinois," the paper reported.

Yandle will be the first African-American judge to serve in the SDIL. She will also be the first openly gay judge to serve in the Seventh Circuit.

“Staci Yandle’s confirmation today marks another important milestone in the journey toward equality of opportunity for all Americans," Durbin said in a statement. "Her confirmation is not only historic, it is well deserved."

Durbin chaired Yandle’s confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Yandle had previously been considered for a vacancy that was created in the East St. Louis office of the SDIL upon the retirement of U.S. District Judge Patrick Murphy last December.

Nancy Rosenstengel, former Clerk at the SDIL, was appointed to Murphy's seat and is the first woman to serve on the bench in the SDIL.

Yandle has operated the Law Offices of Staci M. Yandle in O’Fallon since 2007, which handles personal injury litigation.

She had worked for four years at the Rex Carr Law Firm and for 16 years at Carr Korein and Tillery.

She currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Bar Foundation. She taught as an adjunct professor for nearly a decade at St. Louis University School of Law.

A graduate of the University of Illinois and Vanderbilt University School of Law, Yandle resides in Carlyle.

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