Executive Sessionby Senator Susan M. Collins
Posted on 2013-02-13
COLLINS. Mr. President, I am delighted to rise in strong support
of the confirmation of William Kayatta of Maine to serve on the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
Mr. Kayatta was originally nominated to this position more than 1 year ago. He was approved by the Judiciary Committee on a bipartisan vote last April. Unfortunately, despite his exceptional qualifications, his nomination was stalled by election-year politics. That is finally behind us, and I am pleased the President renominated Mr. Kayatta in January.
I wish to thank the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, my colleague from Vermont Senator Leahy; the ranking member Senator Grassley; and, indeed, all the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for acting promptly and positively in favor of Mr. Kayatta's renomination.
Let me also express my gratitude to the two leaders, Senator Reid and Senator McConnell, for moving his nomination so quickly to the Senate floor.
Mr. Kayatta is an attorney of exceptional intelligence, extensive experience, and demonstrated integrity. I cannot tell you how highly regarded he is in Maine's legal circles. In fact, if you ask virtually any attorney, judge, prosecutor, law professor or anyone involved in the legal profession in Maine, they will tell you the President could not have made a better choice than Bill Kayatta. He graduated magna cum laude from both Amherst College and Harvard University Law School, where he served as a member of the Law Review.
After graduating from law school, Mr. Kayatta clerked for the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, Frank Coffin. It is a wonderful symmetry that he now, assuming the confirmation goes well this afternoon, will be joining the court for which he clerked many years ago.
In 1980, he joined the prestigious law firm of Pierce Atwood in Portland, ME, where over the subsequent 32 years Bill specialized in complex civil litigation at both the trial and appellate levels. Bill Kayatta has served as chairman of both the Maine Professional Ethics Commission, the Maine Board of Bar Examiners, and as president of the Maine Bar Association.
In 2002, Mr. Kayatta was inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers, and in 2010 he was elected by his peers to the college's board of regents.
Mr. Kayatta has simultaneously maintained a very substantial pro bono practice. In the year 2010, he received the Maine Bar Foundation's Howard H. Dana Award for career-long pro bono service on behalf of low- income Mainers.
In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court appointed him as a special master in Kansas v. Nebraska and Colorado, an original water rights case. That too is an indication of the Court's confidence in Mr. Kayatta's legal abilities.
[[Page S673]] Finally, Mr. Kayatta has earned the American Bar Association's highest rating: ``unanimously well-qualified,'' reflecting the ABA's assessment of his credentials, experience, and temperament.
Mr. Kayatta's impressive background makes him eminently qualified for a seat on the First Circuit. His 30-plus years of real-world litigation experience would bring a valuable perspective to the court.
The First Circuit has only six authorized judgeships, the fewest of any circuit. It acutely feels any vacancy that arises. The First Circuit has not been at full strength since January 1, 2012, when Judge Kermit Lipez took active senior status. Now the circuit's caseload must be distributed among just five judges who continue to do their best to provide the timely and measured justice for which the First Circuit has long been known.
The State of Maine is very proud of its history of providing superb jurists to the Federal bench. I am confident William Kayatta will continue in that fine tradition, and I urge my colleagues to join me in voting for his confirmation, a vote that is long overdue but has finally arrived.
Again, I wish to thank the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, the ranking member, and the two leaders, Senator Reid and Senator McConnell, for moving this important nomination to the Senate floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.