by Max Brantley
The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote this morning on the president's nomination of Circuit Judge Susan Hickey of El Dorado to a federal district court vacancy for the western district of Arkansas.
If approved, Arkansas will be left with one opening of four that developed during President Obama's term. Background checks are currently underway on Kris Baker of Little Rock, the apparent White House preference among three names sent for consideration by U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor.
UPDATE: Republican Sen. Charles Grassley said he'd vote against Hickey's confirmation, according to Glenn Sugameli, whose Judging the Environment follows the judicial confirmation process. Questions had been raised in committee about her experience. Both Arkansas senators support her and the American Bar Association has rated her as qualified. Vote is at 1 p.m. Arkansas time.
UPDATE: Hickey's nomination, supported on the floor by Arkansas's Republican senator, was approved 83-8. This was in marked contrast to an earlier nomination, Alison J. Nathan of New York, approved only 48-44. A third nominee, Katherine Forest of New York, was approved by acclamation.