Justice Sri Srinivasan has taken charge as the Chief Justice of U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia, the nation’s second highest court on February 13, after Judge Merrick Garland, 67, the Chief Judge of this influential court, completing his seven year term, formally stepped down and passed on the gavel to Srinivasan, making him the first South Asian American to lead a powerful federal circuit court.
Ascension to the post was based on age and years of service on the bench. Srinivasan will turn 53 on Feb. 23. Srinivasan, who was also Obama’s shortlist for the Supreme Court, according to the Washington Post, “shares Garland’s moderate style in his rulings and in his demeanor in questioning lawyers who argue before the court.” It said that Srinivasan “is similarly well-liked by colleagues and is viewed as slow to talk but quick to listen on a court known for its collegiality.”
Of the nine sitting Supreme Court justices, four are alumni on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, including Brett Kavanaugh, who was replaced by Neomi Jehangir Rao, both President Trump’s nominees.
The Washington Post while acknowledging that “the title of chief judge comes with a higher profile and administrative headaches” it did not envisage any “additional judicial authority on a court where judges sit on panels of three.”
In announcing the end of Garland’s tenure as Chief Judge and the ascension of Srinivasan to this position, the Court said that “Judge Garland will continue as an active member of the court,” which he has served on for the past three decades.
The Indian-born Srinivasan, who migrated to the U.S. with his parents and two sisters at age 4, was nominated by President Obama on June 11, 2012, nearly 10 months after the President appointed him Principal Deputy Solicitor General, replacing yet another trailblazing Indian American, Neal Kumar Katyal.
President Obama in nominating Sri, as he’s popularly known, said, “Sri is a trailblazer who personifies the best of America,” and noted that “Sri spent nearly two decades as an extraordinary litigator before serving as Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States.”
“Now,” Obama predicted, “he will serve with distinction on the federal bench,” and pointed out, “Sri will in fact be the first South Asian American to serve as a circuit court judge in our history.”