WASHINGTON — Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree are recommending that President Obama pick either a Maine Supreme Court Justice or a Portland attorney as the nominee to fill Maine’s sole seat on the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Maine Democrats said today that they are forwarding the names of Justice Jon Levy of Portland and William Kayatta Jr., a partner at Pierce Atwood in Portland and a Cape Elizabeth resident, to the White House as candidates to fill the seat being vacated by federal appeals Judge Kermit Lipez.

Lipez is assuming senior status by Dec. 31, or when his replacement is confirmed, though he continues to handle a full load of cases.

While the Senate is charged with confirming judicial nominees, since both Maine senators are Republicans and Obama is a Democrat, it is up to Pingree and Michaud to make federal judicial nominee recommendations to Obama. The two Democratic lawmakers in turn named a selection committee, made up of people from different parts of the Maine legal community, to help screen candidates before choosing to send on to the White House Levy and Kayatta as their recommendations.

It will be up to Obama to decide who to nominate for the seat.

“We were impressed with all the applicants, a reflection of the high quality of Maine’s legal community,” Michaud and Pingree said in a joint release.  “The two names the panel unanimously recommended are extremely well qualified. Either candidate would be an excellent addition to the appeals court.”

Levy is a former chief judge of the Maine District Court. He was nominated in 2002 by then Gov. Angus King to serve on the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Kayatta is a nationally prominent trial attorney.

The names of candidates to replace Lipez come in the same week in which the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of Nancy Torresen, an assistant U.S. Attorney, for the U.S. District Court in the District of Maine. Torresen’s nomination now goes to the full Senate for a vote.