A federal appeals court in Washington, where Judge Srinivasan serves, will hear one of its biggest cases of the year, one whose outcome will directly affect how Internet providers can alter one’s experience online. At stake are the government’s net neutrality rules banning telecom and cable companies from unfairly discriminating against new or potential rivals. Using their power in the marketplace to control what services consumers can access from their smartphones, tablets and PCs, Internet providers could be granted more latitude to favor preferred Web sites — if the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit says so.
As per reports, three judges from the D.C. Circuit have been named to hear the oral argument on Dec. 4. Much like the Supreme Court, the very makeup of this panel could subtly shape the course of events. Judge Stephen F. Williams and Judge David S. Tatel are the other two Judeghs who will decide this historic case with far reaching consequences in the US and around the world. That 2014 net neutrality case is known as Verizon v. FCC, and Tatel is the sole returning judge this time, drawing that much more attention to his role in the last round. Because both sides are claiming to have properly interpreted Tatel’s 2014 ruling, everyone’s watching to see how Tatel himself will now view this case.
Judge Sri Srinivasan is a relative newcomer to the court, having been appointed by President Obama in 2013. His views on net neutrality and technology aren’t clear, making him a bit of an enigma. He’s said to be a rising star. Srinivasan is reportedly on the Democratic Party’s shortlist for Supreme Court nominees.
Getting there certainly wasn’t easy. While under consideration for the D.C. Circuit post, some liberals attempted to torpedo Srinivasan’s nomination because of his past jobs. He’d previously been a legal assistant to the Bush administration and has represented clients such as Exxon on human-rights issues.
Mother Jones described him in 2013: “At a time when Republican obstruction has ground the confirmation process to a halt, and the outspoken progressivism — or even mild progressivism — of prior Obama nominees has run into GOP filibusters, Srinivasan’s unclear record offers Republicans few legitimate reasons to block him. It also means that liberals can’t be sure that Srinivasan actually shares their views.