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Get to Know a Judge: Sri Srinivasan

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on April 03, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In case you haven't been paying attention, here's the dirt on Sri Srinivasan, a newer arrival to the D.C. Circuit, but widely considered a rising legal star and potential future SCOTUS nominee. A native of India, he grew up in Kansas, graduated from Stanford, and clerked for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Srinivasan gained notice as a private litigator and government lawyer before joining the D.C. Circuit.

Four of the nine Justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court came through the D.C. Circuit. Will Srinivasan be next?

The Judgeship That Almost Wasn't

Today, there is open speculation that Srinivasan will be nominated for the Supreme Court should Obama have the opportunity to do so. However, when he was first being considered as a nominee for a D.C. Circuit vacancy, the National Review reported that his nomination was facing stiff opposition within the Obama administration. Liberal members of the Democratic party almost scuttled his nomination before it happened, objecting to Srinivasan's representation of anti-union clients and support of Guantanamo policies as assistant to the Solicitor General under G.W. Bush.

After the initial opposition, it took two years for Srinivasan to be nominated, and almost a year for the nomination to be acted upon. Despite the earlier controversy, his confirmation was uneventful; Srinivasan's nomination received unanimous support in the Senate.

Gaining a Name as a Corporate Litigator

Srinivasan made his mark during his career as a litigator and a government lawyer. As a partner with O'Melveny and Meyers, Srinivasan defended corporate interests in several newsworthy cases. Representing Exxon Mobil, he argued unsuccessfully before the D.C. Circuit that corporations should be immune from liability under the 1789 Alien Tort Statute, an anti-piracy (the seafaring, Barbarossa-style piracy, not the Internet stuff) which had been revived by human rights activists as a way to hold corporations accountable when they were connected to abuses abroad.

Srinivasan also made news representing former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling before the Supreme Court, in a challenge to Skilling's 19-count fraud conviction following Enron's implosion. In that case, Srinivasan successfully convinced the Court to limit the scope of the "Honest Services" statute to bribery and kickback schemes -- it had previously been used to prosecute corporate officers for corruption and fraud.

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