A dozen former top officials of the Justice Department's Officer of Solicitor General banded together Monday to endorse President Barack Obama's latest nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Sri Srinivasan.
"Sri has a first-rate intellect, an open-minded approach to the law, a strong work ethic, and an unimpeachable character," the bipartisan group of officials wrote in a letter sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and ranking Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa.
"Sri is one of the best appellate lawyers in the country. He has argued 24 cases before the United States Supreme Court and other major cases before Court of Appeals around the country. He is a terrific oral advocate, and a gifted writer," the officials added. "While in the Solicitor General's office, Sri quickly grasped the nuances of a wide array of legal issues, drafted finely written briefs, and clearly articulated the position of the United States. He is extremely well prepared to take on the intellectual rigors of serving as a judge on the D.C. Circuit."
More than four years into Obama's presidency, he has yet to have a nominee confirmed to the D.C. Circuit, which officially has the same rank as other federal appeals courts but is viewed as the most powerful because of the steady stream of cases it receives from and about the federal government. The panel is also seen as a stepping stone for jurists headed for the Supreme Court.
Obama nominated Srinivasan, the principal deputy solicitor general, to the D.C. Circuit last June. The president's first nominee to that court, former New York state Solicitor General Caitlin Halligan, withdrew last month after a cloture vote on her nomination failed in the Senate for the second time, after gaining just 51 of the needed 60 votes. Obama first tapped her for the court in September 2010, almost 19 months after taking office.
"The D.C. Circuit, as you know, is often considered the nation’s second-highest court, but it has twice as many vacancies as any other court of appeals, and its workload has increased by over 20 percent since 2005," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday. "Sri’s confirmation will be an important first step to filling this court’s four vacancies, and he will be, when confirmed, the first South Asian circuit court judge in history."
Leahy announced Monday that his committee will hold a hearing on Srinivasan's nomination on April 10.
The D.C. Circuit currently has seven active judges: three appointed by President Bill Clinton, three by President George W. Bush, and one by President George H.W. Bush. . . .