US Senate approves Srinivasan as top court judge
The Senate on Thursday unanimously approved Srikanth Srinivasan as the most senior US judge of South Asian descent, amid speculation that he may one day be tapped for the Supreme Court.world Updated: May 25, 2013 04:41 IST
They disagreed again, as they do nearly every minute in the US senate. But they disagreed this time about who can praise Srikanth "Sri" Srinivasan more. Republicans or Democrats?
And so they went back and forth for an hour praising him and his credentials before a clerk began calling senators to vote to confirm him, or, if they dared, reject him.
Actually, there was absolutely no disagreement. The senate voted 97-0 to confirm him as a judge of the DC circuit court of appeals, a stepping stone to the Supreme Court.
When sworn in, Sri Srinivasan, 46, will become the first Indian American to become a circuit court of appeals judge.
"This is a historic moment for all Indian Americans and Asian Americans," said Ami Bera, the only Indian American in US congress, in a statement.
His confirmation also puts him in line for Supreme Court, four of whose judges, including chief justice John Roberts came from the DC circuit. He is expected to join them soon.
Srinivasan is principal deputy solicitor general in the Obama administration, having served in that department earlier during President George W Bush's term.
That explains to an extent the bipartisan support he got in the senate. Colleagues who have worked with him believe Srinivasan is ideologically neutral.
But the Chandigarh-born lawyer is fanatical about basketball, specially Kansas Jayhawks, the college team where Srinivasan grew up -- Lawrence, Kansas.
He played for his school team, himself.
Both his parents were teachers -- his father was a mathematics professor at the University of Kansas, and his mother taught at the Kansas City Art Institute.
Sri, as he is known to everyone, graduated from Stanford University and did a joint law and business masters from Stanford Law School and Stanford Graduate School of Business.
"He is very hardworking and very humble," said Saroja Srinivasan, a distinctly proud mother, after her confirmation hearing in April.
Srinivasan worked for the law firm of O'Melveny & Myers, where he made a reputation representing corporate clients including Enron boss Jeffrey Skilling.
The first time he appeared before the Supreme Court, Srinivasan took along just a single sheet of paper, so as to not appear overconfident. But the paper was blank.
And if there is a vacancy in the court in the remaining years of President Obama's term -- and there may be one -- Srinivasan is said to stand a decent chance of being nominated to it.
New Yorker magazine has said if "Srinivasan passes this test (his confirmation) and wins confirmation, he'll be on the Supreme Court before President Obama's term ends". Srinivasan cleared that test on Thursday.