WASHINGTON – A Senate committee on Thursday postponed its vote on a federal judicial candidate from Maine whose nomination has been pending for more than a year.
William Kayatta, a partner at the Pierce Atwood law firm in Portland, was one of three federal judicial nominees slated for consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. But Republican committee members requested a one-week delay on all three.
President Barack Obama first nominated Kayatta for the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston on Jan. 23, 2012. The Judiciary Committee endorsed the Cape Elizabeth resident three months later, sending his name to the full Senate for consideration.
But Kayatta and several dozen other judicial nominees fell victim to election-year politics. Employing a tactic used by both parties over the years, Republicans blocked consideration of the nominees prior to the election in hopes that a Republican win in the presidential race would allow the victor to make their own appointments.
With six full-time judges, the 1st Circuit is the smallest circuit court one step below the U.S. Supreme Court and is the last resort for most appeals from Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico and Rhode Island.
Kayatta would replace Judge Kermit Lipez, also of Maine.
Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law who tracks judicial nominations, said he expects Kayatta to be easily approved by the committee next Thursday. The question, Tobias added, is when he and the other judicial nominees will be brought up on the Senate floor.
“There is nothing controversial” about Kayatta, Tobias said. “He is well-qualified and he has strong home-state support.”