Sri Srinivasan, President Barack Obama’s latest appointment to the US Court of Appeals Circuit for the District of Columbia, may well be on his way to becoming the first Indian-American appointed to the Supreme Court.
Srinivasan was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last June, but the process for his approval has been lengthy due to numerous delays and legislative red tape.
Despite these setbacks, however, few on Capitol Hill have any doubt that Srinivasan’s confirmation is guaranteed, and there’s a good chance another promotion will be around the corner.
Born in Chandhigarh in 1967, but raised in the heart of Kansas by two parents working at the University of Kansas, Srinivasan eventually left the Midwest to pursue his bachelor’s degree at Stanford University.
He graduated in 1989 and went on to pursue and earn a prestigious J.D./MBA from the Stanford graduate schools of Law and Business in 1995. He quickly became a highly successful private lawyer, becoming a partner at O’Melveny & Meyers, a Washington, DC, law firm, by the time he was 40. He even fought a handful of very high-profile cases, including one in which he defended former Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling.
The case garnered national attention, especially because it came before the Supreme Court, who eventually ruled in favor of Srinivasan’s client, an outcome that was deemed unlikely from the start.
In 2011, he was appointed to replace fellow Indian American Neal Katyal as the Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States, a job that essentially means Srinivasan is one of a core group of lawyers who represent and stand for the federal branch of the US government in the eyes of the Supreme Court.
It is their job to – among other things – determine the legal position and opinion of the federal government in any Supreme Court cases that may involve them. It is, however, difficult to know exactly when Srinivasan may actually be named to the highest court in the country, since Supreme Court Justices are appointed for life.
There are whispers in the nation’s capitol that Ruth Bader Ginsberg may retire within the next few years, but there will be political pressure on Obama (or whoever succeeds him) to replace her with another woman, meaning Srinivasan could be in his new job for a while. Nevertheless, Srinivasan is the first Indian American to be seriously in the conversation for a Supreme Court job in the nation’s history.
The presidency of Barack Obama has been a consistently progressive one, and appointing Srinivasan to the loftiest legal job in the country would be a firm continuation of that legacy. Srinivasan, who is also an avid basketball fan and player, seems well on his way to making history and breaking more barriers for Indian Americans.