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Sri Srinivansan Approved for D.C. Circuit ... Wait, Who?

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By William Peacock, Esq. on May 17, 2013 10:01 AM

When you've argued at least 20 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, and worked in the Solicitor General's Office for two different administrations (Bush II and Obama), and Jeffrey Toobin, author of The Nine, (a personal favorite) writes a New Yorker feature on you, titled, "The Supreme Court Nominee-in-Waiting," some idiot blogger shouldn't be wondering who you actually are.

Still ... who is Sri Srinivansan? Who is the man who worked for Republicans, worked for Democrats, and now has been unanimously approved to the right-leaning D.C. Circuit by a left-leaning president -- after years of Republicans blocking President Obama's nominees?

Resume

We covered Srinivansan extensively in 2011, when he became the Deputy Solicitor General, but lets recap:

The Stanford AB, MBA, and JD alum clerked for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the Fourth Circuit, as well as Ret. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court. He also made partner at O'Melveny and Myers and worked in former President George W. Bush's Solicitor General's Office from 2002-2007. In 2010, he was rumored to be in consideration for the D.C. Circuit bench but was passed over for a another nominee (since blocked by Congress). He made his return to the Solicitor General in 2011.

Conservative Cred

Srinivansa's work for Bush administration may have been why he was passed-over three years ago. Much of his work in private practice has involved representing large corporations, which tends to make unions a bit nervous. Most famously, he represented former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling in his 2010 trip to the Supreme Court and successfully represented a newspaper publisher that fired its employees for using the union to pressure the paper into changing its editorial slant.

Other things for liberals to loathe: he advocated for Bush's Guantanamo policies and defended Exxon in a human rights abuse case, writes Illume Magazine.

Liberal Love

This seems to be more "company you keep" than "clients you represent." For one, Srinivansan was nominated by President Obama. He is also, according to the New Yorker, a protégé of Walter Dellinger, the acting Solicitor General during the Clinton Administration. Toobin states that the "safe assumption seems to be that Srinivansan would be the same kind of moderate liberal as Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan."

For eighty-seven current vacancies, President Obama has only made twenty-five nominations. As Toobin cleverly pointed out, "[Liberals] are just happy to see him put forward almost any name."

The Answer

Sri Srinivansan is a lawyer. A damn good lawyer. It really is as simple as that. Someone who defends Exxon Mobil or argues in favor of Guantanamo detainment policies may or may not agree with his clients' causes, but as a zealous advocate, he does his best. If he does a good enough job, no one knows his true feelings. They're too busy considering his arguments. That seems to be the case with Srinivansan. We know his skill, his pedigree, and his argumentative ability. His jurisprudence, however, remains to be seen.

And for those counting: that's four Republican appointees, four Democratic appointees (including Srinivansan), and three vacancies left on the D.C. Circuit.

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