The Senate yesterday approved without comment the nomination of liberal Seattle attorney William L. Dwyer, the subject of a former senator's controversial vote trade, to be a U.S. district judge for the Western District of Washington state.

The Senate confirmed the nomination on a voice vote, along with those of four other judicial candidates.

The process took less than two minutes, even though Dwyer had been the subject of two hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

After the confirmation, Sen. Daniel J. Evans (R-Wash.) said Dwyer "will bring such moral courage and enlightened wisdom to the bench that all who sit in judgment before him -- no matter how unpopular -- will receive just treatment."

Dwyer's nomination has been the subject of controversy since he was named by Reagan in March 1986 on the recommendation of then-Sen. Slade Gorton (R-Wash.).

In an effort to get the White House to act on the nomination, Gorton agreed to vote for confirmation of conservative Daniel Manion to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Gorton's vote trade, which proved decisive in confirming Manion, haunted him in last year's Senate campaign, in which Brock Adams (D) defeated him.