President Obama’s new nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals D.C. Circuit started his legal career with a firm representing the interests of such “notable” clients as Bank of America, Exxon Mobil, Fannie Mae, Goldman Sachs, and Enron. The president has been pressing senators to confirm Sri Srinivasan, currently the Principal Deputy Solicitor General for the U.S. Justice Department, as a federal judge, and, unlike Obama’s last nominee, Caitlin Halligan, some conservatives seem more than willing to support his confirmation.
After law school, Srinivasan clerked for Reagan-appointed conservative Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III and then for Reagan-appointed Judge Sandra Day O’Connor. The Principal U.S. Deputy Solicitor General then began working for the law firm of O’Melveny & Meyers, a Defense Firm representing some of the largest corporations and financial institutions in the world. In June, Justice O’Connor told The New Yorker that Srinivasan should not have difficulty getting confirmed. “He’s not anybody who’s been politically active,” she said. In an interview with the New York Times, Justice Wilkinson called him “balanced” and “moderate.”
On Monday, 6 Democratic and 6 Republican former Solicitors General and Principal Deputy Solicitors General submitted a letter of support for Srinivasan, calling him “one of the best appellate lawyers in the country,” and urging “his timely consideration… and his swift confirmation in the U.S. Senate.”
Among the letter’s Republican collaborators are attorney Paul Clement, currently fighting to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act on behalf of the GOP, attorney Ted Olson, who served as George W. Bush’s Solicitor General, and attorney Ken Starr, who brought about the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton.
Srinivasan’s nomination has been described by some as an initiative to shift the conservative majority of the second most powerful U.S. court. But the nomination is hardly a progressive one; even if it is confirmed, there will still be 3 vacancies on the 11-seat bench, and Obama would have to fill all 3 to bring a Democratic majority – not a likely scenario given that the GOP has filibustered his last 2 judicial nominees, and that his administration has largely failed to act on judicial nominations and court appointments.
Sri Srinivasan seems tailor-made for conservative approval. If there are still Republicans who seek to oppose the nomination, it can only be because the nomination was Obama’s. These same politicians would filibuster George W. Bush if he were President Obama’s candidate.
Alisha Mims is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.