Sri Srinivasan, principal deputy solicitor general. (Credit: Washington Post) Sri Srinivasan, principal deputy solicitor general. (Credit: Washington Post)

Sri Srinivasan -- the principal deputy solicitor general President Obama has nominated to sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, was confirmed in a 97 to 0 vote Thursday.

The vote is significant for several reasons. Srinivasan is the first D.C. Circuit nominee confirmed since 2006; Obama has been hoping to shift the conservative tilt of the court, which is poised to rule on several key elements of his second-term agenda in the months ahead.

With the vote, Srinivasan also becomes a front-runner to be nominated for a Supreme Court vacancy should one arise in the next three years. Four of the Supreme Court's current nine justices served on the D.C. Circuit. Srinivasan will be the first circuit court judge of South Asian descent in history.

By agreeing to vote on Srinivasan’s nomination Thursday, rather than postponing it until early June, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell kept Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from invoking the so-called “nuclear option,”  which would allow filibusters to be broken by a simple majority vote.

Reid had threatened to use this tactic on Srinivasan’s nomination, and McConnell is aiming to undermine his rationale for a rules change by allowing it to move forward.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Srinivasan by a vote of 18 to 0, so he was expected to win confirmation by a wide margin.

One of the reasons Srinivasan has enjoyed such broad bipartisan support is that he has worked under both Republican and Democratic presidents: He spent five years working in the Solicitor General’s office under President George W. Bush, and two years working in the same office under President Obama. In the interim he worked for the private law firm of O’Melveny & Myers, representing corporate clients including former Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling. He also clerked for former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Born in Chandigarh, India, Srinivasan immigrated to the United States at age four: his family settled in Lawrence, Kan., where his father was a mathematics professor at the University of Kansas, and his mother taught at the Kansas City Art Institute. A talented athlete, Srinivasan played point-guard on the Lawrence High School basketball team, including one year with future University of Kansas and NBA star Danny Manning.