No wonder there are so many complaints about judicial shortages, both in the First Circuit and beyond. For the first time since June of last year, our legislature has approved a nominee to the federal courts. It should come as no surprise then that Judge William Kayetta, Jr. was probably the least controversial appointee imaginable.
According to the Blog of LegalTimes, Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, stated, "If you ask virtually any attorney or judge or prosecutor or law professor, anyone involved in the law profession in Maine, they'll tell you the president could not have made a better choice than Bill Kayatta."
The Bangor Daily News opines that his personal politics probably played little role in the delay either, as according to FEC records, he had only made a few minimal donations to Democratic candidates in the last few years.
So what was the actual reason for the delay? Partisan politics, of course.
One strongly possible reason was retaliation for President Obama's unconstitutional recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. Lasting bitterness over those appointments led to delays in the first part of the year. After that, the Strom Thurmond rule kicked in.
The unofficial Thurmond rule states that the party not holding the presidency can delay votes on lifetime appointments during the final stages of the presidential election. This meant an absolute halt to judicial appointments from June until now.
It also meant senior status judges spent more time playing substitute teacher on the bench. Justice David Souter filled in frequently here in the First Circuit. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor had a few cameos in the Eleventh Circuit, including a brilliant opinion that may have cited the 8-bit video game "Duck Hunt."
As for the newly-approved Judge Kayatta, he joins the bench after a distinguished career in the private sector for Pierce Atwood, LLP. According to the firm's biography, he has been recognized by The Best Lawyers in America for excellence as a litigator and by the Maine Bar Association for his pro bono work. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1979 after serving as an officer of the school's law review.
- Gregory Phillips Up for 10th Cir: the Power of Law School Friends (FindLaw's Tenth Circuit Blog)
- Who Will Replace First Circuit Judge Kermit Lipez? (FindLaw's First Circuit Blog)
- What Does the Recess Appointment Ruling Mean for Your Company? (FindLaw's In House Blog)