WASHINGTON — William Kayatta Jr., the nominee for Maine’s seat on the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, cleared a hurdle today.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Kayatta and four other judicial nominees this morning. The approval for Kayatta was by voice vote. Two committee members – Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-AL, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT – entered no votes.

The next step for Kayatta is a vote on the Senate floor. That vote has not yet been scheduled.

Kayatta, a trial attorney and partner at Pierce Atwood, would replace Judge Kermit Lipez. Lipez shifted to semi-retired status in December and has said he will carry a full caseload until September.