Federal judicial update: Arkansas's senators have sent three names to the White House for each of three coming vacancies on the federal bench, two in Little Rock and one in South Arkansas. Another one is soon in the offing in Fort Smith.
I originally asked if the senators would release the names, as U.S. Rep. John Boozman did when he was the point on federal appointments during a Republican administration. They didn't respond. Eastern District Judges Bill Wilson and Jim Moody are taking senior status to create the openings in Little Rock.
But insiders told me the nominees: Chris Heller, Amy Russell and Denise Reid Hoggard, all of Little Rock, for Moody's seat. Then, Appeals Court Judge D.P. Marshall of Jonesboro, Chip Welch of North Little Rock and Mariam Hopkins of Little Rock for Wilson's seat. Candidates for the western district seat that Judge Harry Barnes is retiring from are Judge Jim Hudson of Texarkana, Magistrate Caroline Craven of Texarkana and Susan Hickey, long-term law clerk to Barnes.
Many, particularly among the disappointed,were curious if Amy Russell, the wife of Sen. Pryor's staff chief, Bob Russell, would be among the finalists. It's not so much the family connection that interests, though Russell took an active role in the selection process. It's her past financial support for George W. Bush. Don't Democratic presidents generally tap Democrats for judgeships?
UPDATE: I never got a return call from Pryor's office and somehow I think I may be on their DNR list henceforth. But once I broke the news, Lincoln's office put it out in the form of a joint release with Pryor. It's on the jump.
Washington – U.S. Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor today sent letters to President Barack Obama recommending nine individuals for Arkansas’s three federal district court vacancies.
Historically, the President of the United States has relied upon the recommendations of home state senators when filling federal judicial vacancies.
“As a U.S. Senator, I take my constitutional ‘advise and consent’ role very seriously,” Lincoln said. “Appointments to the federal bench are lifetime appointments and have a direct effect on the lives of Arkansans. After careful consideration of many qualified individuals, I am pleased to recommend these Arkansans and know they would serve our state and nation ably if selected by the President.”
“Over the last few months I have spent time evaluating and reviewing the applicants for three federal judgeships in Arkansas,” said Pryor. “I am confident that the nominees that we have submitted to the White House are qualified, demonstrate proper judicial temperament, and exhibit the ability to be fair and impartial.”
For the vacancy created by the Honorable James M. Moody assuming senior status, Lincoln and Pryor have recommended the following Arkansans as candidates for U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Arkansas: Christopher J. Heller, Denise Reid Hoggard, and Amelia Mosley Russell.
For the vacancy created by the Honorable William R. Wilson assuming senior status, the senators have recommended the following Arkansans as candidates for U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Arkansas: Mariam T. Hopkins, D.P. “Price” Marshall, Jr., and Morgan E. “Chip” Welch.
For the vacancy created by the Honorable Harry F. Barnes assuming senior status, Lincoln and Pryor have recommended the following Arkansans as candidates for U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Arkansas: Caroline M. Craven, Susan O. Hickey, and James S. Hudson, Jr.
Once nominated by the President, the candidate for a federal judgeship must testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee and be confirmed by the entire Senate.
The senators’ recommendation letters to the President are attached.