Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond who follows the federal judiciary, sends word that the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning approved the nomination of Circuit Judge Jay Moody to a seat on the federal bench in Little Rock. Approval came by voice vote without debate, which Tobias says means Moody should be easily confirmed. The question is when. Floor votes are complicated by other Senate disputes. Tobias guesses early next year.

The vote is critical in positioning among candidates for the circuit court bench. If Moody is confirmed in time, a vacancy in his existing state judgeship could create an additional option for a couple of candidates who otherwise might face each other for the one judgeship currently on the ballot.