WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday endorsed the nomination of Portland attorney William J. Kayatta to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in Boston.

A vote by the full Senate has not been set.

Kayatta Jr., 58, was nominated in January by President Barack Obama to replace Kermit Lipez, the only judge from Maine on the appellate court.
Lipez, 70, of South Portland announced a year ago that he would transition from active to senior status once his successor was confirmed.

Efforts to reach Kayatta were unsuccessful Thursday.

Kayatta appeared in March before the Judiciary Committee for a confirmation hearing.

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe issued press releases about the committee’s action. Both Republican senators endorsed his confirmation.

“Bill is an attorney of exceptional intelligence, extensive experience and demonstrated integrity, who is very highly respected in the Maine legal community,” Collins said. “Bill’s impressive background makes him eminently qualified for a seat on the 1st Circuit. His thirty-plus years of real world litigation experience would bring a much-needed perspective to the court.”

Snowe urged the Senate to give his nomination “prompt consideration.”

“This is a case of the president selecting a superbly qualified nominee, who can and should attract strong, bipartisan support in the Senate,” she said in a press release. “A tremendous steward of the common good, especially the cause of access to justice for all, Bill could not be more qualified to be a circuit court judge and I reiterate my strong support of his nomination.”

Kayatta is a partner with Pierce Atwood of Portland. He graduated from Amherst College and Harvard Law School, according to his profile on the law firm’s website. He lives with his wife, Anne Kayatta, in Cape Elizabeth. The couple has two daughters.