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HindustanTimes Tue,30 Sep 2014

Srinivasan gets pat on back from senator at hearing

Yashwant Raj , Hindustan Times  Washington, April 12, 2013
First Published: 14:30 IST(12/4/2013) | Last Updated: 14:31 IST(12/4/2013)

With the country’s eight highest justices staring down from their perch, no lawyer had the time to look at the notes. Srikant Srinivasan, at least, couldn’t.

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He has argued many cases before the eight justices of the US Supreme Court, with mixed results. On Wednesday he was arguing in a different body, for a different client.

Chandigarh-born Srinivasan appeared before a senate committee to argue for his confirmation to be US judge for the District of Columbia circuit.

And he was not using notes once again. If confirmed Srinivasan will be the first Indian American to be appointed to a federal court. There is much riding on his lean shoulders.
The hearing was attended by Indian American congressman Ami Bera, and the first and only Hindu congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, another Indian American whose rise in the US judicial system is being closely watched: district attorney Preet Bharara

Is he likely to go through? The committee was certainly impressed. What objections could anyone have to your appointment, asked senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat.

“You have done a fine job today,” said Republican senator Ted Cruz.

Saroja Srinivasan, who came to the US with her husband when Srinivasan was four said, “He is very hardworking and humble.” A distinctly proud mother, who had just heard some very tough politicians say extremely good things about her son.

Current status:

At present, Srinivasan is principal deputy solicitor general, and has been nominated to the DC circuit, which is a stepping stone to the Supreme Court. The current Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts is from the DC circuit. The other SC justices from the circuit are Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. So Srinivasan has a strong chance.

What’s a circuit court? It is much like India’s high court, second tier, handling only appeals.

How are SC judges elected in the US? SC judges are nominated by the president of the day, but have to be confirmed by the Senate, which clears all presidential nominations of a  certain seniority.

How long will it take for him to get elected? No one knows yet. But there is a speculation that Ginsberg wants to retire, which may happen any time during Obama’s second term.

How vacancies are created? SC justices are not subject to terms or age limit. They decide when they want to retire. And they time it in a way to give the president of the day the chance to nominate someone of similar ideology, liberal or conservative. Ginsberg is a liberal.

Is he pitted against Kamala Harris? Harris has been also named as a possible pick, if Obama wants to have a woman succeed Ginsberg.

Can both of them get elected? It’s difficult for both to get in.

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