This was a vote on confirming Benita Y. Pearson to be U.S. District Judge in Ohio. Under the constitution, the president has the authority to nominate individuals for federal judgeships, but a majority of the Senate must vote in favor of their nomination in order for them to be sworn into office.
Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) urged support for Pearson’s nomination: “I have reviewed the record and considered the character, background and qualifications of the nominee and join with the senators from Ohio, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, in supporting this nominee.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) argued that Pearson had extreme views on animal rights law: “Mrs. Benita Pearson… has some very extreme views on animal rights….she is a member of the ALDF [Animal Legal Defense Fund], the defense of animals group, that is very extreme in its views. For that reason, the National Cattleman's Beef Association and the Farm Animal Welfare Coalition strongly oppose the nomination. I think her views on this issue are out of the mainstream.”
Leahy argued that her views on animal rights had been exaggerated, and were, in fact, mainstream: “…There were some who tried to make a mountain out of a mole hill with respect to a statement she made about animals. I just worked…on a constitutional, legal prohibition against vicious videos that show animals being crushed. That bill passed unanimously. No Senators thought twice about approving that important legislation. I remember a couple of years ago when a famous professional football player went to prison for his participation in a dog fighting ring. Many Americans were outraged by those activities and no senator questioned the state and federal laws against such activities. Are those who oppose this nomination also now opposed to the Humane Society of the United States and to the legislative actions we took since they involved animals?”
The Senate confirmed Pearson’s nomination by a vote of 56-39. Voting “yea” were 55 Democrats and 1 Republican. 38 Republicans and 1 Democrat voted “nay.” As a result, the Senate confirmed Benita Y. Pearson to be U.S. District Judge in Ohio.