Washington, May 24: Chandigarh-born "trailblazer" Indian-American legal luminary Srikanth 'Sri' Srinivasan has made history with the US Senate unanimously confirming him as the first South Asian judge on the powerful appeals court for the American capital.
Srinivasan, 46, currently principal deputy solicitor general of the US, was Thursday confirmed by the Senate by a 97 to 0 vote, as a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, often called the nation's second-highest court.
"Pleased" at the unanimous confirmation of his nominee "the first one to this important court in seven years," President Barack Obama said "Sri is a trailblazer who personifies the best of America."
"Born in Chandigarh, India, and raised in Lawrence, Kansas, Sri spent nearly two decades as an extraordinary litigator before serving" in his current job, Obama noted predicting, "Now he will serve with distinction on the federal bench."
"Sri will in fact be the first South Asian American to serve as a circuit court judge in our history," he said as he pressed the Senate to act quickly to fill the three remaining vacancies on the appeals court "as well as other
vacancies across the country".
The 11-member court has been operating with just seven judges - four Republican and four Democratic nominees - throughout Obama's tenure.
The influential Washington Post described Srinivasan's confirmation as significant for Obama "hoping to shift the conservative tilt of the court, which is poised to rule on several key elements of his second-term agenda in
the months ahead."
In fact like many other analysts Post noting that four of the Supreme Court's current nine justices served on the DC Circuit suggested "With the vote, Srinivasan also becomes a front-runner to be nominated for a Supreme Court vacancy should one arise in the next three years."
For USA Today "It was just the latest chapter in a stellar legal career that has taken the 46-year-old litigator known as "Sri" to a seat on the nation's second most powerful court - and given him instant buzz as a potential Supreme Court justice himself."
Even before his 18-0 approval by Senate Judiciary Committee last month, the New Yorker suggested: "The stakes in this nomination are clear: if Srinivasan passes this test and wins confirmation, he'll be on the Supreme Court before President Obama's term."
Ian Millhiser, a senior constitutional policy analyst at the Centre for American Progress Action Fund agreed that "Srinivasan may indeed emerge as a leading candidate for the Supreme Court."
"In the mean time," he suggested there were "ten potential Democratic Supreme Court nominees who aren't named 'Sri'". Among them, he named California's Indian-African-American Attorney General Kamala Harris, and Indian-American Neal Kumar Katyal, whom Srinivasan succeded.
Srinivasan's family immigrated to the US when he was four. He grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, where his father was a mathematics professor at the University of Kansas, and his mother taught at the Kansas City Art Institute.
He received his BA with honours and distinction in 1989 from Stanford University and his JD with distinction in 1995 from Stanford Law School, where he was elected to Order of the Coif and served as an editor of the Stanford Law Review.
He received the Attorney General's Award for Excellence in Furthering US National Security in 2003 and the Office of the Secretary of Defence Award for Excellence in 2005.