Earlier this year, we reported that William J. Kayatta was nominated to the First Circuit Court of Appeals to replace the vacancy left by the retirement of Judge Kermit Lipez.
We anticipated that the vetting process might be a little more stringent this time around, given the recent controversy over other recent Federal appellate nominees. It's fair to say, however, that Kayatta has cleared his first round of hurdles this week, as his confirmation hearings were held on March 14.
Kayatta is currently a partner at Pierce Atwood in Portland, Maine. At his recent confirmation hearing, there was no indication of any controversy from the four committee members who presided over the hearing.
The one potential “gotcha” question came from Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who asked Kayatta if he supports the Second Amendment’s rights to gun ownership. To that, Kayatta responded that he declined to discuss his personal views and that he would respect legal precedent on all cases before the court.
While Kayatta was recommended to President Barack Obama by two Democratic Representatives, two Republican senators showed support of Kayatta at his Wednesday confirmation hearing.
Senator Olympia Snowe made the following comments in support of Kayatta:
“This is a case of the President selecting a superbly-qualified nominee, who can and should attract strong, bipartisan support in the Judiciary Committee.”
In a statement released online, Senator Susan Collins had the following to say regarding Kayatta’s nomination:
“Bill is eminently qualified to serve on the First Circuit Court of Appeals. He deserves overwhelming bipartisan support, and I look forward to introducing him to my colleagues as soon as possible.”
Senator Collins urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to act fast, stating that the First Circuit has six full-time judges and can’t afford a vacancy.
A confirmation vote is expected as early as next month.
- Search First Circuit Court of Appeals Opinions (FindLaw Cases)
- Federal Courts of Appeal (FindLaw)
- Senate Judiciary Committee Questionnaire on William J. Kayatta Jr. (Senate Judiciary Committee)