WASHINGTON — A Louisianan nominated by President Donald Trump for a seat on the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will get a hearing before the Senate's Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, amid a lobbying campaign by pro-life and conservative groups for Sen. John Kennedy's support.

Kyle Duncan, a 45-year-old Baton Rouge native and LSU law school graduate who's built a national profile as a D.C.-based legal warrior on conservative social issues, is up for a lifetime appointment on the appeals court.

Wednesday's hearing will offer committee members — including Kennedy, R-Louisiana — a chance to grill Duncan over his record, experience, judicial philosophy and political views.

Kennedy has remained tight-lipped on how he might vote on Duncan, telling The Advocate in recent weeks that he's still studying the attorney's credentials and wasn't ready to announce a position on his nomination.

A spokeswoman for Kennedy, Michelle Millhollon, said Monday the senator is impressed with Duncan's "pro-life and pro-religious liberty" record. But Millhollon said the senator hoped to learn more about Duncan's expertise in other areas of the law at Wednesday's hearing.

Kennedy "wants the benefit of a hearing before making a decision," Millhollon said. "The Senator does not know Mr. Duncan, and he wants to make an informed decision."

Kennedy's public indecision has attracted attention from at least three national conservative groups who've enthusiastically backed the White House's decision to tap Duncan for the Fifth Circuit seat.

The groups — Americans United for Life, the Judicial Crisis Network and the National Right to Life Committee — each launched campaigns in Louisiana urging the Senate to confirm Duncan.

Duncan is one of two nominees with Louisiana ties for vacancies on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt, the chief judge of the New Orleans-based U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, was also nominated by the White House.

A hearing for Engelhardt before the Judiciary Committee hasn't yet been scheduled.

Wednesday's hearing for Duncan comes after the Judiciary Committee chairman, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, announced he'd move forward on the nominations despite a lack of a positive "blue slip" from Kennedy.

The blue-slip courtesy has traditionally allowed senators to wield considerable influence in federal judicial nominations in their states. Though the courtesy has been applied differently over the past century, committee chairs have generally waited for positive endorsements before moving ahead with a hearing.

Grassley said Kennedy had no objection to holding a hearing for Duncan when he announced the move. Another Trump appeals court nominee — David Stras of Minnesota — will be considered on Wednesday despite objections from Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota.

Liberal groups have raised objections to Duncan's nomination — pointing to a long record of legal advocacy against gay, transgender and abortion rights — and Senate Democrats are expected to oppose him.

Because of the committee's narrow partisan split, Kennedy could cast a key vote. If Democrats all vote against Duncan, a "no" from Kennedy would scuttle his nomination, while Kennedy's support would likely clear him out of committee and send the nomination to the full Senate for confirmation.

“Senator Cassidy is working with President Trump to see good federal judges nominated in Louisiana, and will continue pushing the Senate to confirm them in a timely manner,” Matt Wolking, communications director for Cassidy, said in a written statement Monday.

The Wednesday hearing represents the latest step toward filling a number of vacant positions in Louisiana's federal courts.

On Thursday, the committee will vote on whether to send a nominee for a Monroe-based judgeship in the federal Western District of Louisiana to the full Senate for a confirmation vote. Terry Doughty, currently a state judge in Franklin, Richland and West Carroll parishes, has already appeared before the committee to answer questions.

If approved by the committee, Doughty would join a second Western District judicial nominee — Lafayette attorney Michael Juneau — in waiting for a confirmation vote from the full Senate. Trump has not yet named nominees for two other vacant judgeships in the 42-parish Western District, which includes courthouses in Monroe, Shreveport, Alexandria, Lafayette and Lake Charles.

Trump has also nominated Barry Ashe, a partner in the New Orleans office of Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann, for a federal judgeship in the New Orleans-based Eastern District. But no hearing before the Senate’s Judiciary Committee — a key hurdle for nominees — has yet been scheduled for Ashe.

Officials in the Trump administration have placed a great deal of importance on federal judgeships and GOP leaders in the Senate have made confirming nominees a top priority. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, changed Senate rules to diffuse a potential Democratic filibuster of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and has threatened to toss out other rules to speed along nominees if Democrats continued deploying a range of procedural obstacles to slow down the process.

The Advocate has previously reported that Trump intends to nominate Wendy Vitter, currently the general counsel for the Archdiocese of New Orleans and the wife of former U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, to a second vacant seat on the Eastern District. Vitter’s nomination hasn’t been announced, however, and Sen. Bill Cassidy — whose office vetted potential candidates for the seat — also forwarded two other names along with Vitter’s to the White House.

If Engelhardt is confirmed for a seat on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, it’d also open up his former U.S. District Court position.

The other key presidentially appointed positions in Louisiana’s federal court system — the state’s three U.S. Attorney jobs — have not yet been filled. Trump has nominated Brandon Fremin, currently the head of the criminal division in Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office, for the Baton Rouge job.

No hearings have been scheduled yet for Fremin and the White House hasn’t yet named nominees for the other two jobs, although sources told The Advocate that Chaffe McCall law firm partner Peter Strasser is expected to get the nod in New Orleans.

Unlike federal judgeships, U.S. attorneys served at the pleasure of the president and are usually replaced when a new administration takes office. It’s not clear how quickly Senate leaders will move U.S. attorney nominees through the Senate. McConnell and Grassley have both said they’re placing a higher priority on confirming conservative judges than federal prosecutors.

Editor's note: This story was updated after publication to correct the name of one of the groups participating in campaigns for Duncan.

Follow Bryn Stole on Twitter, @BrynStole.