On May 23, 2013, the Senate unanimously confirmed Sri Srinivasan to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by a vote of 97-0. Srinivasan previously served in the Solicitor General’s office at the Justice Department under both Presidents Obama and George W. Bush, and served as law clerk to Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, a Ronald Reagan-appointee on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Srinivasan has been praised by President Obama as a “trailblazer” and is the first Indian American ever nominated and confirmed to a federal appellate court.
Srikanth (“Sri”) Srinivasan was born on Feb. 23, 1967, in Chandigarh, India, and grew up in Lawrence, Kansas. He received his B.A. with honors and distinction in 1989 from Stanford University and his J.D. with distinction in 1995 from Stanford Law School, where he was elected to the Order of the Coif (top 10% of graduating class) and served as an editor of the Stanford Law Review. He also holds an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, which he received along with his J.D. After receiving his law degree, Srinivasan clerked for Judge Wilkinson on the Fourth Circuit and then for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. In between clerkships, he was a Bristow Fellow in the Office of the Solicitor General.
Srinivasan was an associate at the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers LLP in Washington, D.C., from 1998 until 2002. In 2002, he returned to the Solicitor General’s Office as an Assistant to the Solicitor General. While working in the Solicitor General’s office, he received the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Furthering U.S. National Security in 2003 and the Office of the Secretary of Defense Award for Excellence in 2005. In 2007, Srinivasan became a partner with O’Melveny & Myers LLP. In 2011, he was named the Chair of the firm’s Appellate Practice Group.
Srinivasan has argued before the Supreme Court 25 times, drafted briefs in several dozen additional cases, and has also served as lead counsel in numerous cases before federal and state appellate courts.
Srinivasan has extensive federal appellate court experience representing pro bono clients, private sector clients, and the government.
Over the course of his career, Srinivasan has handled several dozen pro bono cases, namely on issues regarding equal access to education, voting, the environment, capital punishment, criminal law, and rights for minorities, immigrants, and indigent persons. For example, Srinivasan co-wrote a brief representing a family whose car was monitored for four weeks with an attached 24-hour GPS monitoring device. Srinivasan’s brief argued that the lack of a search warrant to use the device violated the Fourth Amendment. The Court agreed with Srinivasan, and held that the use of the GPS device was a search within the Fourth Amendment.
Srinivasan has also represented corporate actors and interests, notably including former Enron president Jeffrey Skilling. In Skilling v. United States, Skilling appealed his conviction of conspiracy, securities and wire fraud, and making false representations to auditors. Srinivasan raised two main arguments in oral proceedings before the Supreme Court. He successfully argued that the federal honest services statute covers only bribery and kickback schemes, which did not apply to Skilling. On the other hand, he unsuccessfully argued that the location of the trial in Houston was an improper venue because of pretrial publicity. Srinivasan has also argued on behalf of companies fighting labor claims brought against them. One of his most high-profile labor cases involved a newspaper publisher that had allegedly fired employees because of their union activities. On behalf of the employees, the National Labor Relations Board sought to enjoin the publisher and have the employees reinstated. The Ninth Circuit, however, agreed with Srinivasan’s arguments and affirmed the lower court’s ruling in favor of the publisher.
Srinivasan has litigated a number of high-profile cases while working at the Solicitor General’s office. For instance, he co-authored a brief in Rumsfeld v. Padilla, in which he successfully argued that the president has the authority to detain an enemy combatant, even when the combatant is an American citizen. Additionally, he co-authored a brief in Elgin v. Department of Treasury, a case in which federal employees were dismissed because they failed to register for the Selective Service and tried to challenge their dismissal in federal court. Srinivasan’s brief argues that the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 requires former employees to first go before the Merit Systems Protection Board, not a federal court, an argument with which the Supreme Court agreed in its holding.
Srinivasan has issued several important decisions during his time on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
In Home Care Association of America v. Weil, Srinivasan wrote the majority opinion upholding a Department of Labor rule that extended minimum wage and overtime protections to almost 2 million home care workers. Srinivasan also joined a majority opinion that upheld a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision validating a union election that resulted in a group of nursing home employees voting to unionize and be represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). In Hodge v. Talkin, Srinivasan wrote the majority opinion upholding restrictions that prohibit demonstrations on the Supreme Court’s plaza as “reasonable” against a First Amendment challenge.
Most recently, Srinivasan voted to deny halting the implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan regulations pending review of the regulations. The states and coal-fired power plants suing the EPA petitioned the Supreme Court for a stay, however, and the Court granted the stay on February 9, 2016, by a vote of 5-4.
Professional and Academic Activities
Srinivasan has served as a lecturer at Harvard Law School, where he taught a class on Supreme Court and appellate advocacy.
He has received the North American South Asian Bar Association Cornerstone Award and the South Asian Bar Association-Connecticut Distinguished Professional Award. He has also been named one of the 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America by the National Law Journal.