Judge Sri Srinivasan of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit could replace Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, who was found dead with a pillow over his head at a Texas resort on Saturday, February 13, 2016. Reportedly shortlisted by President Barack Obama for the Supreme Court job, the Indian-American was the Administration’s principal deputy solicitor who won the 2013 argument for same-sex marriage under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
According to NDTV, while the president has the constitutional right to choose whomever he wants, the selection needs Senate approval, which is currently controlled by the Republicans. With judgements on abortion and affirmative action crucial to Democrats still pending in the Supreme Court, a new justice with liberal leanings would be the their preference.
After Scalia was found dead in his room at the Cibolo Creek Ranch resort in Texas, President Obama stated his intention on Sunday, February 14, to fulfill his constitutional responsibilities and nominate a successor. Obama said that naming Scalia’s replacement was “bigger than any one party.”
According to India.com, Sri, 48, the first Indian-American to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, is among Obama’s top picks to replace Scalia, 79, who reportedly died of an “apparent heart attack,” though no autopsy has been done. Known to have argued for both Republicans and Democrats, moderate judge Srinivasan lost the case of Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling in 2010, but won a favorable decision for same-sex marriage in 2013.
While Republicans considered Sri’s appointment to the District Court of Appeals part of a conspiracy to shake the court from its conservative entrenchment, the same-sex champion refuted the allegation. Despite being an Obama appointee with several others, Srinivasan denied influencing his current court affiliation in any way.
“If we lived in a world where we had the rule of a judge, rather than the rule of law, you would have seen an absolute sea change, an avulsive change in the law as it was interpreted, applied and rendered by our court.”
Obama has started the process of selecting a nominee soon, despite Republicans demanding a moratorium on nominations until November’s presidential election. Pundits argue that a Democratic replacement of Scalia would bring significant change to ideologies in the high court, long dominated by conservatives.
Meanwhile, G.O.P. opposition to Sri could incite allegations of obstructionism and hypocrisy, because Republicans supported his previous appointment to the Court of Appeals. Reuters has Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz on record as saying that Srinivasan had done a “very fine job” in answering questions during his previous nomination confirmation hearing.
Aside from Sri Srinivasan, the others on Obama’s short list are Jacqueline Nguyen, a 50-year-old Vietnamese-American judge on the San Francisco-based Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since May, 2012; Paul Watford, 48, also a judge on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; and Jane Kelly, 51, a former public defender who served on the St. Louis, Missouri-based Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since April, 2013.
According to International Business Times, Sri was born in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh, while his father was a native son of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. His family migrated to Kansas in the 1960s, where he was raised.
In terms of his legal career, Srinivasan went on to earn degrees in law and business from Stanford University, and was cited by the New Yorker in 2013 as “the Obama Administration’s principal deputy solicitor general“.
While speculations are rife over Scalia’s death in a resort room with a pillow over his head and no autopsy done, Sri Srinivasan’s narrative has taken a life of its own, the promise bright.
[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]