Within hours of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death on Saturday, Sri Srinivasan’s name began to circulate as a possible replacement.
Srinivasan, 48, has been named as a top choice since 2013 when he was sworn in to the D.C. Circuit, which is seen as a breeding ground for future nominees.
Given that Scalia’s death leaves the Supreme Court split with four Democratic and Republican justices each, his replacement will serve as a tie-breaker in upcoming cases on abortion, affirmative action, and immigration.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died on Saturday of apparent natural causes. Sri Srinivasan has been named as a possible replacement
Srivasan, 48, served as the Principal Deputy Solicitor General before he was nominated by Barack Obama to be a circuit judge for the D.C. Court of Appeals. Pictured above with his twin children
He was born in India as Padmanabhan Srikanth Srinivasan, grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, and went to Stanford, where he earned his undergraduate and law degrees, in addition to an MBA.
He previously served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and worked as Obama’s deputy solicitor general.
The president has called him ‘a trailblazer who personifies the best of America’.
If he is nominated and sworn in, Srinivasan, known as ‘Sri’, will be the country’s first Indian-American justice.
The litigator, who represented the country in the Windsor v. United States case, argued that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional given its limitations on same-sex couples.
He presented the case without notes, according the USA Today.
His is also known for defending Jeffrey Skilling, the former CEO of Enron, in Skilling v. United States. Skilling was later found guilty of fraud.
Walter Dellinger, President Bill Clinton’s former acting solicitor general, said that earlier in Srinivasan’s career, the litigator would take a single, blank sheet of paper to the podium to avoid looking overconfident.
Dellinger also said: ‘Sri is undoubtedly considered one of the best three or four Supreme Court advocates in the country’.
Other possibilities for Scalia’s spot on the Supreme Court include Paul Watford, 48, who is a judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
He was a law clerk to Alex Kozinski, the former chief judge of the Ninth Circuit, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court justice.
David Barron’s name has also been making the rounds, although some say he is a controversial choice due to his justification of Obama’s decision to launch drone strikes on Anwar al-Awlaki, an American Muslim who was living in Yemen.
Jacqueline Nguyen was nominated by Obama in 2011 to serve on the ninth circuit, making her the first Asian-American female federal appellate judge.
Jane Kelly, a former public defender serving as a judge on the eighth circuit is another possible option.
Obama commented on her nomination with Gregory Alan Phillips in 2013 by saying they had ‘proven themselves to be not only first-rate legal minds but faithful public servants.’
Paul Watford, 48, (left), and David Barron (right) are also named as possible candidates. Barron, however, is controversial for his defense of Obama’s decision to launch drone strikes on an American in Yemen
The current president is likely to make the nomination soon, despite vows from Republican politicians to block his choice and leave the decision to the next president.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said: ‘The American people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.’
The longest nomination process took 125 days for Justice Louis Brandeis in 1916.
Although Obama has just under a year left in office, the longest vacancy on the court lasted 835 days when John Tyler could not get the Senate to approve a replacement for Justice Henry Baldwin who died in 1844.
Nevada Senator and the minority leader Harry Reid tweeted on Saturday: ‘The President can and should send the Senate a nominee right away. The Senate has a responsibility to fill vacancies as soon as possible.
CURRENT SUPREME COURT JUSTICES
Anthony M. Kennedy -Conservative, appointed by Ronald Reagan, serving since 1988
Clarence Thomas – Conservative, appointed by George H. W. Bush, serving since 1991
Ruth Bader Ginsburg – Liberal, appointed by Bill Clinton, serving since 1993
Stephen Breyer – Centrist, appointed by Bill Clinton, serving since 1994
John G. Roberts – Conservative, appointed by George W. Bush, serving since 2005
Samuel Alito, Jr. – Conservative, appointed by George W. Bush, serving since 2006
Sonia Sotomayor – Liberal, appointed by Barack Obama, serving since 2009
Elena Kagan – Liberal, appointed by Barack Obama, serving since 2010
‘It would be unprecedented in recent history for SCOTUS to go year with vacancy. And shameful abdication of our constitutional responsibility.’
The Republicans may have difficulty opposing Srinivasan without accusations of obstructionism since they helped him enter the DC Court of Appeals.
Scalia died of apparent natural causes while staying at the Cibolo Creek Ranch in the Big Bend region south of Marfa.
The Supreme Court Justice spent the day quail hunting before arriving at the ranch on Friday to attend a private party with approximately 40 other people.
He wasn’t feeling well and went to bed early, CNN reported.
When he did not show up for breakfast in the morning, a person associated with the ranch went to check on him and found his body in his room.
Nevada senator Harry Reid tweeted: ‘The President can and should send the Senate a nominee right away…It would be unprecedented in recent history for SCOTUS to go year with vacancy. And shameful abdication of our constitutional responsibility.’