WASHINGTON – The Senate unanimously confirmed Nancy Torresen on Monday as a U.S. District Court judge for Maine.

Torresen’s nomination was so non-controversial that she won confirmation by a “unanimous consent” motion, which did not require a roll call vote.

Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy of Vermont, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the confirmation of Torresen and five other judicial nominees Monday — all but one by unanimous consent — should be the norm, although it has become routine for even non-controversial nominees to wait months for Senate confirmation votes.

Torresen, 51, an assistant U.S. attorney from Bangor, will be Maine’s first female federal judge. Her husband, Jay McCloskey, was U.S. attorney for Maine during the Clinton administration.

Her nomination process began in March, when President Obama named her as his candidate for the seat held by Judge D. Brock Hornby, who assumed senior status last year but has maintained a full caseload.

Torresen’s nomination was cleared in late May by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The panel’s top Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, spoke on the Senate floor Monday and defended the pace of judicial confirmations.

“We are not here merely to rubber stamp the nominees,” Grassley said. “Sometimes this process takes a little time.”

Torresen’s nomination to the District Court seat, which pays $174,000 a year, was strongly supported by GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, who are not members of the Judiciary Committee.

Both Maine senators praised Torresen’s confirmation Monday, as did Democratic Reps. Chellie Pingree of the 1st District and Mike Michaud of the 2nd District.

In a phone interview after Monday’s vote, Torresen said she appreciated the support of Snowe and Collins, which helped move her nomination to the floor.

“I think it did help to have them in my court, so I am very grateful,” Torresen said.

Torresen said she is “thrilled” to be a federal judge and hopes to be sworn in this month and begin her work on the bench in November.

“I am anxious to get started doing cases,” Torresen said. “I am sure there will be a learning curve, but basically I am just excited to get going and start this new chapter.”

Maine’s legal community is now awaiting a White House nomination for an opening on the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.

Michaud and Pingree recommended in late May that Obama nominate Maine Supreme Judicial Court Justice Jon Levy of Portland or William Kayatta Jr. of Cape Elizabeth, a partner in Pierce Atwood in Portland, to fill the seat being vacated by Judge Kermit Lipez.

Obama has not yet made his nomination, and if the White House waits too long to make a nomination, there is a danger the nominee will get snarled in election year delays.

Lipez will assume senior status by Dec. 31, or when his replacement is confirmed, but said last week that he would maintain a full caseload until June 2012.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: Twitter.com/MaineTodayDC.