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As a group, Democrats focused on the powerful personal story of the 55-year-old federal appeals court judge — the daughter of Puerto Rican parents who was raised in a South Bronx housing project. Several brought up her bootstrap path to success as a prime reason to approve her nomination.

“First, in terms of personal history,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein said in opening her remarks. “What a great story it is for America,” gushed Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat.

Republicans, on the other hand, based their opposition on her judicial record and her statements outside the courtroom.

“I think she is one impressive person, but that is not enough,” Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said.

But in the end, even Mr. Sessions, alone at a microphone outside after the vote, acknowledged that it’s all over but the shouting.

• Joseph Curl can be reached at