As Sri Srinivasan awaits the confirmation hearing on his nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, some legal analysts are floating the principal deputy solicitor general as a potential frontrunner for the next Supreme Court opening.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider Srinivasan, who was nominated by President Barack Obama to the D.C. Circuit in 2012, on Wednesday. The federal appeals court in Washington is considered one of the nation's most powerful, and boasts many Supreme Court justices as alumni, including John Roberts, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia.
However, even before Srinivasan comes under Senate consideration, legal analysts are eyeing the 46-year-old as Obama's next pick for the high court.
The next Supreme Court confirmation hearing begins on Wednesday afternoon, April 10th. Technically, Sri Srinivasan is just a candidate for the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, but few are misled. The stakes in this nomination are clear: if Srinivasan passes this test and wins confirmation, he’ll be on the Supreme Court before President Obama’s term ends.
Srinivasan, who is forty-six years old, is currently the Obama Administration’s principal deputy solicitor general. He’s had twenty or so arguments in the Supreme Court, including part of the Administration’s attack on the Defense of Marriage Act last month. He’s been a corporate litigator at O’Melveny & Myers; a junior lawyer in the Office of the Solicitor General; and a law clerk to J. Harvie Wilkinson, who is a moderate conservative on the Fourth Circuit, and then to Sandra Day O’Connor. He earned degrees from Stanford in college, law school, and even business school; he grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, where his parents taught at the state university.
Srinivasan's nomination to the circuit court, which currently has four vacancies, has long gone untouched by the Senate, prompting a bipartisan group of former solicitors general to pen a letter urging the Senate to confirm him.
"Sri is one of the best appellate lawyers in the country," reads the letter, which was signed by former George W. Bush solicitors general Theodore Olson and Paul Clement and former George H.W. Bush Solicitor General Kenneth Starr, among others. "We urge his timely consideration by this Committee and his swift confirmation in the US Senate."
Judicial vacancies have ballooned under Obama, with 87 seats currently vacant in federal courts. As the Washington Post reports, there are currently 15 judicial nominees awaiting confirmation votes, including 13 who have already unanimously cleared committee consideration. Last month, Obama withdrew his nomination of Caitlin Halligan to serve on the D.C. Circuit, after Senate Republicans blocked a vote on her nomination for almost two and a half years.
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said during a press conference that he expected Srinivasan to receive a vote. However, he left the door open on using filibuster reform to address Republican obstruction of other Obama nominees.
"I hope that's not necessary," he said.