Sri Srinivasan – the Indian-American Judge who could replace Scalia

Sri Srinivasan

One likely contender to replace Justice Scalia on the US Supreme Court is an Indian American appeals court judge, Sri Srinivasan, who has pro-business credentials and an impressive resume.

Srinivasan has served on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since he was confirmed on a 97-0 bipartisan vote in the US Senate in May 2013. Republican senators who supported him then would likely be asked to justify why they couldn’t back him for the Supreme Court.

The White House informed on Sunday that Obama will wait until the U.S. Senate is back in session before making a nomination, the returns from recess on February 22nd.

Not much is known about Srinivasan’s views on divisive issues like abortion and affirmative action, but as a senior Justice Department lawyer in 2013, he was part of the legal team that successfully urged the high court to strike down the Defense Marriage Act, a law that restricted the definition of marriage to heterosexual couples for the purposes of Federal benefits. The ruling helped pave the way for the court’s ruling in June 2015 that legalized gay marriage nationwide.

In private practice, prior to his appointment to the appeals court, Srinivasan successfully represented former Enron Corp CEO Jeff Skilling in a Supreme Court case. The Supreme Court narrowed the reach of the so-called honest services fraud law, invalidating one theory used by prosecutors for Skilling’s conspiracy conviction and ordering further appeals court review. Despite the high court ruling, Skilling’s conviction was later upheld by an appeals court.

Srinivasan also represented Exxon Mobil Corp in a lawsuit alleging human rights abuses in Indonesia, and mining giant Rio Tinto in a similar case about its activities in Papua New Guinea. Both cases concerned in part whether a law called the Alien Tort Statute allows such cases to be heard in U.S. courts. The Exxon case is still ongoing. The Rio Tinto lawsuit was dismissed.

His work during two stints with the O’Melveny and Myers law firm prompted expressions of concern from liberal groups and unions that normally back Democratic judicial nominations when he was nominated to the appeals court in 2012.

He has had a lengthy career in public service, serving in the Justice Department during both the Obama and George W. Bush administrations. Under Bush, he had a junior role while under Obama he was a political appointee serving as the top deputy to the solicitor general.

Srinivasan was born in Chandigarh, India and grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, where his father was a professor at the University of Kansas. If appointed, he would be the first Indian-American to serve on the Supreme Court.

(With Inputs From Reuters)

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