It was somewhat of a struggle, but the U.S. Senate confirmed Benita Y. Pearson as a federal district-court judge based in Youngstown.

“The confirmation of Judge Pearson to the U.S. District Court means that we can continue working toward a more just society,” said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, who recommended Pearson to the president in July 2009.

The Senate voted 56-39 Tuesday in favor of Pearson, who becomes the first black female federal judge in Ohio. All the yes votes were from Democrats, with U.S. Sen. George V. Voinovich of Ohio the only Republican supporting her.

All other Republicans voted against Pearson as did U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, a Democrat from Nebraska.

“I’m extremely grateful to Sens. Brown and Voinovich for recommending me and continuing to support my nomination throughout the confirmation process,” Pearson said. “I’m also very grateful to President Obama for nominating me. I appreciate the trust these public officials have placed in my abilities and character.”

Obama must sign paperwork before Pearson can officially begin her new duties. That could come as early as a few days.

After a blockade since September, Senate Republicans recently agreed to let at least 19 of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees be confirmed in the waning days of the congressional session.

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