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Obama pushes hard for Chandigarh-born judge

Washington, April 10, 2013, (IANS) : 14:52 IST

President Barack Obama is making a hard push for the Senate confirmation of a Chandigarh-born Indian-American legal luminary, Srikanth 'Sri' Srinivasan, to what is "often called the nation's second-highest court".

If confirmed Srinivasan, 45, who in August last year was named principal deputy solicitor general of the US, succeeding another Indian American, Neal Kumar Katyal, would create history as the first appeals court judge of South Asian heritage.

"With a coordination and an energy that echo a Supreme Court nomination fight, the Obama administration is pushing for" Srinivasan's confirmation," said The New York Times on the eve of Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing Wednesday on Srinivasan's nomination to the US Court of Appeals for the American capital.

"The White House is lobbying some of the president's most vocal foes," noted the influential US daily with administration officials "trumpeting the endorsement of top Republican lawyers like Kenneth W. Starr, the special prosecutor who investigated the Clintons."

"If the effort fails, it could lead to a confrontation with the Senate over the long-simmering issue of judicial nominees," the Times said.

"The court is of major importance to any White House because it often takes cases that decide the constitutionality of rules and regulations issued by federal agencies," it said.

The Washington Post Editorial Board giving the Post's View wondered how far Senate Republicans' "unwarranted obstruction" of Obama's nominees would extend?

Srinivasan's "gold-plated legal resume is outmatched only by the glowing terms conservative advocates such as Theodore B. Olson, Kenneth W. Starr and Paul Clement used in their endorsements of his nomination," it noted.

"It would be a counterproductive mistake for lawmakers to confuse consideration of Srinivasan's nomination with a vote on the Obama years or policies," the Post said.

"It's not. It's about the institutional interest that both parties have in allowing presidents to staff the government and judiciary with well-qualified nominees of their choice, a norm that senators of both parties have eroded, we hope not irreparably," it said.

The Huffington Post, meanwhile, reported that some unnamed "legal analysts" are floating Srinivasan "as a potential frontrunner for the next Supreme Court opening."
New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin, suggested Srinivasan's Senate hearing will serve as a "dress rehearsal" for a future Supreme Court confirmation battle:

"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 ends," he said.

Ami Bera, the sole Indian-American member of the House of Representatives, also came out in support of Obama's nominee saying "Sri Srinivasan would be an outstanding court of appeals judge."

"He is widely regarded as one of the best legal minds in the country. His integrity, wealth of experience, and education make him extremely well equipped to serve as a judge on the DC Circuit, one of our country's most important courts," he said.

"His appointment would make history and be a proud moment for the Indian American and broader Asian American communities," Bera said.

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