With the Senate returning from its recess today, eyes fall on President Barack Obama, who said last week he would nominate a candidate for the Supreme Court while the Senate is session, foregoing a recess appointment.
According to analysts, Current DC Circuit Court Judge Sri Srinivasan is one of the front runners likely to be at the top of Obama's short lists. Appointed to the DC Circuit in 2013, here are five things to know about him:
1. He's lived the quintessential immigrant story.
Srinivasan was born in India in 1967 and immigrated with his parents and two younger sisters to the United States when he was four years old. The family first moved to California and then settled in Lawrence, Kansas, where Srinivasan’s father became a math professor at the University of Kansas and his mother taught art history at the Kansas City Art Institute, eventually joining the University of Kansas’ computer science department.
In a speech accepting the 2013 India Abroad Person of the Year Award, Srinivasan highlighted his family’s immigrant story and the acceptance they had received from the United States.
“When we became citizens, we took an oath to support and defend the Constitution and laws and bear faith and allegiance to the same. When I became a judge last year, I took the very same oath administered by Justice O’Conner,” Srinivasan said. “Rather amazingly, I’m now in the position to administer that oath to others who themselves are becoming citizens. ... What a profound statement about the opportunity in this country. What a profound privilege to go from one who took the oath from a judge to one who now is in the position to administer the oath as a judge.”
2. The Senate liked him (in 2013).
When Srinivasan was confirmed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2013, he became the first judge confirmed to that court since 2006, and the first of Obama’s four nominations to that court.
He is the only Obama appointee to be confirmed unanimously. The Senate voted 97-0 in his favor after the Judiciary Committee approved his nomination 18-0. For comparison, Obama’s three other nominees were approved along party lines.
3. He's worked for both the Bush and Obama Departments of Justice.
Part of the reason Srinivasan was confirmed as easily as he was could be his bipartisan work. He has worked in the solicitor general’s office, which represents the United States in court, under both the Obama and Bush administrations.
Srinivasan also clerked for two judges appointed by Ronald Reagan — Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III and former Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who administered Srinivasan's oath of office.
When his nomination was before the Senate, solicitors general from both the Bush and Clinton administrations sent letters of their support, according to the New York Times.
4. He took his oath of office on a Hindu holy scripture.
Srinivasan became the first South Asian American to sit on the circuit court, and took his oath of office on the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu holy text, reports The Hindu, a daily English-language newspaper headquartered in India. His mother held the book as he recited the oath.
If nominated, Srinivasan would be the first South Asian American nominated to the Supreme Court.
5. He loves basketball.
Srinivasan is an avid basketball fan and played the sport at Lawrence High School in Lawrence, Kansas, where he was a point guard. That team also included Wake Forest University’s current men’s basketball coach and former NBA player Danny Manning, who told the Washington Post in 2013, “Sri was a really good player. He was an all-around threat: good dribbler, nice jump shot, and pretty quick.”
In a 2013 keynote speech at the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s annual gala, Srinivasan referenced Jeremy Lin’s success in the NBA as an example of Asian-American momentum in the United States.
When former acting solicitor general Walter Dellinger went into private practice, he recruited Srinivasan, helped in part by a basketball ticket, he said.
"The one reason I got him, was that I offered him my ticket to the Duke at Carolina basketball game if he came,” Dellinger told The Legal Times in 2010. “He did, and he went. He is huge fan."
Correction: An earlier version of this article referred to Srinivasan's former teammate as Danny Myers. His name is Danny Manning.