Indian-American Sri Srinivasan is US appeals court’s chief judge, the country’s 2nd most powerful court

indica News Bureau-

Sri Srinivasan has become the first Asian-American to serve as chief judge of the appeals court in Washington, United States (US).

The 53-year-old was born in Chandigarh, when his father, late Thirunankovil Padmanabhan Srinivasan, was professor in Punjab University’s (PU) mathematics department. His parents eventually migrated to the US in the 1970s.

Merrick Garland formally stepped down from his role as chief judge of the influential appeals court in Washington, passing the gavel to Srinivasan.

Srinivasan, who took the oath as chief judge on the Hindu Holy book Bhagavad Gita and became the first federal appellate judge of South Asian descent, has two sisters. Earlier in 2013, on the nomination of the then US President Barrack Obama, Srinivasan became the judge of the US Courts of Appeal for the District of Columbia Circuit. This made him the first Indian American to be on the bench of the country’s second most powerful court, the first being the US Supreme Court.

Garland, whose 2016 nomination to the Supreme Court by President Obama was blocked by Senate Republicans, became a symbol of partisan dysfunction in Washington and dashed Democratic hopes. He will continue to serve on the court he joined three decades ago.

Srinivasan, whom Obama had first nominated to the post in 2012, was a high school basketball star in Kansas before attending Stanford University, which he graduated from in 1989. Srinivasan holds three degrees from Stanford University. He continues to play in the annual basketball game at the Supreme Court between law clerks from both benches and is still highly competitive, dislocating a finger during last year’s contest.

Srinivasan, spoke recently about his path to the bench at an event celebrating women in the law, a field where men still dominate leadership positions. He took the oath of citizenship from a federal judge when he was 23.  and twenty-three years later, he took the oath to become a federal judge.

“Everybody doubts their belonging and worthiness in some measure. I definitely did — and still do. This is just going to be a part of the thing when you’re looking out in the world in which everyone isn’t like you. It’s natural to doubt whether you belong and whether you’re worthy,” he said, “but you do belong and you are worthy.”

He was Obama’s principal deputy solicitor general, most notably working on the successful fight against the Defense of Marriage Act, but also has experience on the other side of the aisle – serving as an assistant to the solicitor general during the George W Bush administration and as a clerk to retired Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

The title of chief judge comes with a higher profile and administrative headaches but no additional judicial authority on a court where judges sit on panels of three. Ascension to the post is based on age and years of service on the bench.



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