Senate Confirms Rising Star, Could Be Next SCOTUS Nominee


ACRU Staff


May 28, 2013

This column by ACRU Senior Legal Analyst Ken Klukowski was published May 26, 2013 on

The U.S. Senate on Thursday unanimously confirmed Sri Srinivasan to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by a vote of 97-0, and he should already be considered someone on President Obama’s short list for the Supreme Court.

Srinivasan has a spectacular legal resume that looks much like John Roberts a decade ago. In 2003, Roberts was a graduate of Harvard and Harvard Law, clerked for a top federal appeals judge and then a Supreme Court justice (William Rehnquist), later served as chief deputy solicitor general, then after years as a distinguished private-sector lawyer, Roberts was appointed as a D.C. Circuit judge while in his 40s. After two years as an appeals judge, George W. Bush nominated him for the Supreme Court.

Srinivasan graduated from Stanford and Stanford Law. He clerked for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson on the Fourth Circuit, then for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court. He’s had a distinguished legal career and currently serves as chief deputy solicitor general. While still in his 40s, he’s become a judge on the D.C. Circuit.

Professionally, Judge Srinivasan is a clone of Chief Justice Roberts, with two exceptions. First, Srinivasan clerked for two Reagan nominees, giving him an impressive bipartisan glow. And second, he’s Asian American. Thus, nominating him for SCOTUS would be another first, after nominating the first Hispanic justice (Sonia Sotomayor). If Roberts was a likely choice for the Supreme Court, then Srinivasan is a no-brainer (unless Obama is not confident that he shares his judicial philosophy).

The D.C. Circuit is the farm team for the Supreme Court. There are 13 federal appeals courts and 50 state supreme courts. That’s 63 courts from which presidents typically choose Supreme Court justices. In addition, there are 94 U.S. district courts, and presidents historically have also looked at Cabinet secretaries, senators, governors, congressmen, and prominent professors for the Supreme Court as well. A perfect example is Justice Elena Kagan, who was dean at Harvard Law and then U.S. solicitor general.

Yet for all those choices, four out of nine current Supreme Court justices were D.C. Circuit judges when they were nominated for the Court (Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Ginsburg). It’s the first place presidents look. And now Judge Srinivasan sits on that prestigious court.

Rumor has it around Washington that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg plans to retire in 2015. It’s likely that one way or the other Obama will have one more appointment for the Supreme Court. Especially if Republicans make significant Senate gains in the 2014 election, Judge Srinivasan might well be Obama’s best pick.



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