(Evan Vucci/AP)

With 60 votes needed to break the filibuster by Republican members, the Democrats failed by 4 votes. All 51 Democrats present voted to end the roadblock to the Oklahoma judge’s elevation.

They were joined by two independents. Three Republicans — Sens. Olympia Snowe (Me.); Susan Collins (Me.) and Scott Brown (Mass.) broke ranks to vote with the Democrats to allow the nomination to come to an up-or-down vote

But enough GOP senators fell in line behind a reported party decision to freeze any action now on circuit court nominations — something that has become a Senate tradition in presidential election years.

Even Oklahoma GOP Sens. Tom Coburn and James Inhofe, who had strongly backed Bacharach, voted “present,” as did Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, effectively voting to maintain the filibuster.

Bacharach, who was nominated in January, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee by voice vote, with one recorded vote against him.

Monday’s vote, observers said, makes it highly unlikely that the other three appeals court nominations pending on the Senate floor will be approved this year.