WASHINGTON — Just ahead of a key Senate hearing, Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, says she will back President Obama’s nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine.

Snowe met in her Capitol Hill office today with Nancy Torresen, a current assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Maine who was nominated by Obama in early March to fill the seat being vacated by Judge D. Brock Hornby. Hornby was nominated in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush and went on senior status last year, but continues to handle a full case load.

Torresen will receive a hearing Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. If that hearing goes well and the committee reports out her nomination, the next step would be a confirmation vote before the full Senate.

Snowe’s support means Torresen is backed by both of Maine’s U.S. senators. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, proclaimed her support after meeting with Torresen last week in Maine during the congressional recess.

Snowe called Torresen an “experienced, well-qualified candidate to serve as the seventeenth judge and first woman on Maine’s United States District Court over its 222-year history.”

Noting Torresen’s credentials, which include 14 years as an assistant U.S. Attorney and seven years as an assistant state Attorney General, Snowe said in a statement this afternoon that, “I am pleased to support this nomination and look forward to a thorough and expeditious confirmation process. “

Both Snowe and Collins already had submitted the “blue slips” home state senators give to the judiciary committee if they have no objection to a confirmation hearing being held.

Collins said last week that unless something unforeseen arises during the hearing, Collins will advocate for her nomination and urge both Democratic and Republican Senate leaders to schedule a floor vote promptly.

“She is clearly very well qualified,” Collins said last week. “She has extensive experience as a prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office. She appears to have the right temperament for a judge and the integrity I look for.”