WASHINGTON — A U.S. Senate committee voted Thursday to endorse a Cape Elizabeth attorney for a judgeship on the federal bench.

Thursday’s vote was the second time that William Kayatta has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee to fill a vacancy on the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals. But Kayatta’s nomination was blocked in the full Senate — along with dozens of other judicial nominees — because of election-year politics.

Kayatta’s nomination will now be sent to the Senate for consideration. Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, both of whom support Kayatta, have urged Republican and Democratic leaders to hold a confirmation vote promptly.

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.

Kayatta, who is a partner at the Pierce Atwood law firm in Portland, was first nominated by President Obama in January 2012. Republican leaders blocked consideration of the higher-level judicial nominees before the election in hopes that a Republican win in the presidential race would allow the victor to make his own appointments.

“I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Bill personally and following his nomination closely for the past year,” King said in a statement on Thursday. “He is clearly a brilliant lawyer and an exceptionally well-qualified candidate, and it is an extraordinary testament to his credentials that the Senate Judiciary Committee has now twice endorsed his nomination with strong bipartisan support.”

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6256 or at:

[email protected]

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