This was a vote on confirming President Obama’s nomination of Alison J. Nathan to be a U.S. District Judge in New York.
Under the constitution, the president has the authority to nominate individuals for positions in the Department of Justice, 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 Nathan’s nomination: “Alison Nathan is currently Special Counsel to the Solicitor General of New York, having earned the Louis J. Lefkowitz Memorial Achievement Award for her work there last year. Ms. Nathan previously had a successful career in private practice at a national law firm, as a professor at two New York law schools, and as an Associate White House Counsel. She clerked for Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens and Judge Betty Fletcher of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals….There is no question that the Senate should confirm Ms. Nathan. As her resume shows, she is an accomplished nominee with significant experience in private practice, academia and government service. Twenty-seven former Supreme Court clerks have written to the Judiciary Committee in support of her qualifications, including clerks who worked for the conservative Justices.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) opposed Nathan’s nomination: “I believe Ms. Nathan is one of a number of President Obama's nominees who believes that American judges should look to foreign law in deciding cases.…This is not a little bitty matter. It is a matter of real national import. It offends people. Some people, nonlawyers, get offended. They think they should not do that. They are right, but just because people are upset about it and get angry about it doesn't mean it is not a deep, legitimate concern and can be a disqualifying factor as to whether a person should be on the bench. What law do they follow? The U.S. law or foreign law?...Reliance on foreign law, I believe, has been shown to be nothing more than a tool that activist judges who seek to reach outcomes they desire utilize. It is a way to get out from under the meaning of U.S. law. Why else would one cite it? If they cannot find a basis for their decisions in American law and legal tradition, they look to the laws and norms of foreign countries to justify their decisions.”
The Senate confirmed Nathan’s nomination by a vote of 48-44. All 48 Democrats present voted “yea.” All 44 Republicans present voted “nay.” As a result, the Senate confirmed President Obama’s nomination of Alison J. Nathan to be a U.S. District Judge in New York.