Wednesday November 14, 2012 | 04:54 PM

WASHINGTON -- Now that the presidential race is over, Maine's two senators are urging Senate leaders to take up a Maine judicial nominee that has been stalled for months due to election-year politics.

Senate Republicans have blocked votes on Circuit Court judgeships since the summer under a decades-old "rule" that has been employed by both parties when they were in the minority. The theory behind the so-called "Thurmond Rule" is that if the party's presidential nominee wins the White House, the new president would likely nominate a different person for the post.

Cape Elizabeth attorney William Kayatta is one of the individuals stuck in political limbo. President Barack Obama nominated Kayatta for the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in January to replace Judge Kermit Lipez.

Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins -- both Republicans -- had bucked their party leadership and voted in July to move forward with Circuit Court nominations.

This week, Collins and Snowe called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., to take up the judicial nominees who have been endorsed by the Judiciary Committee. Kayatta received the committee's endorsement back in April.

"The First Circuit bench is small -- it has only six active judges -- so any single vacancy hits it disproportionately hard," Collins wrote in a letter to Reid and McConnell.

"In short, there is simply no good reason for his nomination to remain on the Executive Calendar when the Senate could easily and quickly confirm him to fill a vacancy on the nation's smallest circuit court of appeals," Snowe wrote in a separate letter to the pair.

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
Kevin can be reached at 317-6256 or kmiller@mainetoday.com

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