WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama, who has seen court nominees run into Republican roadblocks, may have found a winning strategy for putting a judge on the powerful U.S. appeals court here: He chose a highly regarded corporate lawyer whose resume suggests he could have been a Republican nominee.
Sri Srinivasan, 46, was a law clerk for two Republican-appointed judges after graduating from Stanford University, and he worked in the George W. Bush Justice Department for five years before joining the Obama team as deputy U.S. solicitor general.
In private practice, he went before the Supreme Court seeking a new trial for Jeffrey K. Skilling, the former Enron chief executive imprisoned for engineering a fraud, and defended several multinational corporations sued for their role in human rights abuses abroad.
The White House has been making an all-out push to win Senate confirmation. Unlike other Obama nominees, he appears headed for an easy confirmation. The Senate Judiciary Committee took up his nomination Wednesday, and both Democrats and Republicans praised him as extremely talented, even-tempered and modest.
If confirmed, Srinivasan would be the first Obama-appointed judge on the conservative-leaning D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which decides regulatory cases on matters as varied as environmental protection, workers’ rights and corporate governance, and hears appeals from Guantanamo Bay prisoners.
He would also be the first South Asian native to serve on a U.S. appeals court. Srinivasan was born in India but grew up in Lawrence, Kan., where his parents taught at the University of Kansas. Srinivasan also could be a leading candidate for the Supreme Court if Obama gets to fill a vacancy in his second term.