Robert J. Shelby

WASHINGTON — A Salt Lake lawyer moved a step closer to becoming a federal judge Thursday, though one Utah senator didn't vote for him.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Robert J. Shelby to fill a judicial vacancy in U.S. District Court. Though Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said he "unequivocally" supports Shelby, he voted no to continue his protest of President Barack Obama's four recess appointments made in January.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said he hopes the full Senate confirms Shelby as soon as possible. Obama nominated Shelby, a shareholder at Snow, Christensen & Martineau, last November.