Sen. Rand Paul hit President Obama and congressional Democrats on Wednesday for supporting the nomination of David J. Barron to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, saying they would have vigorously opposed the nomination if George W. Bush was still president.

Barron, a former Justice Department lawyer, was the principal author of a controversial memo authorizing the president to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, an al Qaeda leader in Yemen who was also a U.S. citizen.

"Realize that during the Bush years, most of President Obama's party, including the president himself, argued against the detention, not the killing, they argued against the detention of American citizens without a trial," Paul, a Kentucky Republican, a noted in a Senate floor speech.

"How far have we gone?"

A final vote on Barron's confirmation is expected later this week. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says he believes Democrats have enough votes to confirm Barron.