India-Born Sri Srinivasan Appointed to the US District Court of Appeals

In May, Sri Srinivasan, 46, the India-born (Chandigarh, Punjab), Principal Deputy Solicitor General for the US Government, was approved Sri Srinivasan Judgefor the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (popularly shortened to the DC Circuit) by the US Senate by an overwhelming bipartisan support of 97 to 3. He was nominated for the court by President Obama in June 2012.  The DC Circuit Court’s full bench has eleven judges, but currently, even with the appointment of Srinivasan, three are still vacant.  

He is the first Indian-American to be appointed to the US Courts of Appeals.  Of all the federal courts of appeals — there are thirteen of them nationwide – the DC Circuit Court is an important one even though it covers the smallest geographic area. This is because of its strategic location in Washington D.C., the seat of federal government.  Other federal courts of appeals have jurisdiction over much larger area covering several states. The US Court of Appeals District 9, for example, covers California, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, Washington State, Idaho, and Montana.

The DC Circuit Court has the responsibility of directly reviewing the decisions of many federal independent agencies of the United States government based in the national capital. Given the broad areas over which federal agencies have power, the judges of the D.C. Circuit play a pivotal and central role in affecting national U.S. policies and laws.  The very fact that four of the current nine US Supreme Court justices — Justices Roberts, Scalia, Ginsburg, and Thomas — are from the DC Circuit Court is enough to stress its importance.

Srinivasan grew up in Kansas, where his father was a mathematics professor at the University of Kansas. He is a Stanford University alumnus. His bachelor’s degree, MBA and law degrees are all from Stanford. He clerked for US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Srinivasan has argued twenty cases before the US Supreme Court. Now he will be spending the next several years hearing cases at the DC Circuit Court.  As Jeffrey Toobin, who follows the US Supreme Court appointments closely, speculated in The New Yorker before Srinivasan’s senate approval, “If Srinivasan passes this test and wins confirmation [which, he did], he’ll be on the Supreme Court before President Obama’s term ends.”                          —  By K. S. Venkataraman

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