Judge would be first Indian-American named to Supreme Court

The 49-year-old Srinivasan is one of several people being mentioned prominently as a potential successor to Justice Antonin Scalia.

Kansas City: Sri Srinivasan, a federal appeals judge who was born in India and grew up in Kansas, would be the first foreign-born justice to serve on the Supreme Court in more than 50 years.

The 49-year-old Srinivasan is one of several people being mentioned prominently as a potential successor to conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last month. Replacing Scalia has become a major issue in this year's presidential race as Republicans insist that the next president, not President Barack Obama, should choose a successor.

A judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Srinivasan would bring to the high court previous experience as an attorney in private practice, a law clerk to two Republican-appointed judges and a high-ranking official in the Obama Justice Department.

He has a "first-rate intellect, an open-minded approach to the law, a strong work ethic, and an unimpeachable character," high-ranking Justice Department veterans of Democratic and Republican administrations said in a letter endorsing him for the appeals court. He had a 97-0 confirmation vote by the Senate in 2013.

Srinivasan told the Senate Judiciary Committee then that he has "a deep respect for the need for strict objectivity and impartiality in the task of judging," citing both his work for Vice President Al Gore after the 2000 presidential election and his later work in the Justice Department under Solicitor General Theodore Olson, the lead lawyer for George W. Bush in the Supreme Court case that decided the 2000 race.

"I think any objection to Sri would have to be based on notions that he's either not conservative enough or not liberal enough," said Stephen McAllister, a law professor at the University of Kansas. "It could not be intellectual ability, could not be writing ability, it could not be his general competence in the law."

Srinivasan would be the court's first Indian-American and its first Hindu, on a bench with five Catholics and three Jews. The last justice who was born overseas was Austrian-born Felix Frankfurter, who retired from the court in 1962.

Srinivasan received his bachelor's degree, law degree and MBA from Stanford University. He clerked for U.S. Circuit Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson in Virginia and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, both appointed by President Ronald Reagan. He also worked as the top political deputy in the Solicitor General's office in the Obama administration.

If nominated and confirmed, Srinivasan would have to step aside from high court consideration of two cases he has been involved with on the federal appeals court. He has been considering challenges to the Obama administration's plan to address climate change, and "net neutrality" rules that regulate how the Internet is delivered to consumers.

( Source : AP )
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