Susan Hickey of El Dorado got some questions about her experience but generally gentle handling in an appearance yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will eventually vote on her nomination by the president as a federal district judge.

Two of the four seats available in Arkansas for President Obama to fill have been done, with confirmation of Price Marshall and P.K. Holmes. Hickey, who enjoys support from both Arkansas senators, including the GOP’s Dr. No, would be the third.

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And the fourth? Much speculation, but no answers. The latest rumor is that there has been a hangup in the review process for Amy Russell, believed to be the final candidate standing among three recommended to the White House for the fourth vacancy. She’s married to a former top aide to Sen. Mark Pryor, but has sparked questions from Democrats for her past contribution to George W. Bush. Like Hickey, she has a resume short on experience relative to other nominees. My inquiry this week to Pryor’s office on the progress of the nomination has not yet yielded a response.

Time grows short, as these things go. Filling judgeships in the final year of a presidency — 2012 in this case — is often very difficult because the opposing party hopes nomination power will shift.

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