New judge Sri Srinivasan joins U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C.

Former Justice Department official Sri Srinivasan was formally sworn in Thursday as the newest member of the influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

A former principal deputy solicitor general, Srinivasan is the nation’s first federal appellate judge of South Asian descent and the first presidential nominee confirmed to the D.C. Circuit since 2006.

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Srinivasan, 46, won bipartisan support in the Senate in May in part because of his work in the solicitor general’s office on behalf of Democratic and Republican administrations, under President Obama and President George W. Bush.

The ceremony in a sixth-floor, wood-paneled courtroom attracted prominent Washington lawyers and a delegation from Srinivasan’s native India.

Retired Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor, for whom Srinivasan once clerked, administered the oath, calling him “fair, faultless and fabulous.”

Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the 4th Circuit said Srinivasan has “never believed he has all the answers” and will “revive the lost art of listening” on the court.

A star basketball player at his Kansas high school, former colleagues joked that Srinivasan only loses his judicial temperament when his beloved University of Kansas Jayhawks team is trailing. Srinivasan holds three degrees from Stanford University.

Srinivasan joins a court that is often referred to as the nation’s second-highest court because of its rulings on regulatory and separation-of-powers issues. In addition, four of the Supreme Court’s nine justices served on the D.C. Circuit.

Obama’s judicial nominations have faced some opposition, and Republicans have questioned the need for 11 seats on the D.C. Circuit.

Three other nominations to the court — those of appellate lawyer Patricia A. Millett; Georgetown University Law Center professor Cornelia T.L. Pillard; and U.S. District Judge Robert L. Wilkins — are pending in the Senate.

 
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