Chandigarh-born Indian-American legal luminary Srikanth 'Sri' Srinivasan has moved a step closer to making history as the first South Asian judge on the US Court of Appeals for the American capital.
Srinivasan, 46, who in August last year was named principal deputy solicitor general of the US, succeeding another Indian American, Neal Kumar Katyal, Thursday won unanimous approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee.
If confirmed by the full Senate, which appears all but certain with all the Republicans on the Democrat controlled panel joining in the 18-0 vote, Srinivasan would also become the first new judge on the powerful appeals court, often called the nation's second-highest court, since 2006.
Some court-watchers are already touting him as the next likely Supreme Court nominee as the appeals court has served as a stepping-stone for four justices on
the top court: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Clarence Thomas.
The White House, which has fought hard for his confirmation, soliciting letters of support from former solicitors general and Supreme Court law clerks from both parties, applauded the vote for Srinivasan.
"Srinivasan's confirmation will be an important first step to filling this court's four vacancies, and the full Senate should act without unnecessary delay," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
The committee's Democratic chairman, Senator Patrick Leahy, said that while he was gratified Srinivasan's nomination is moving forward, he was concerned about future Republican efforts to slow nominees to the appeals court.
But the panel's top Republican Charles Grassley said Srinivasan had "the correct judicial temperament." And he believed any fear that Srinivasan would be filibustered was "unfounded."
The lone Indian-American member of the House of Representatives expressing pleasure at Srinivasan unanimous approval by the Senate panel said: "Sri is widely regarded as one of the best legal minds in the country, and his breadth of experience makes him extremely well-qualified for the appointment to one of our country's most important courts."
"His appointment would also be historic for the Indian American and Asian American community. Representation of Indian Americans within our judicial system is overdue," he said.
The 11-seat appeals court has been operating with just seven judges throughout President Barack Obama's tenure. If Srinivasan is confirmed, there would be four Republican and four Democratic nominees serving there.
Srinivasan was born in Chandigarh and grew up in Lawrence, Kansas. He received his BA with honours and distinction in 1989 from Stanford University and his JD with distinction in 1995 from Stanford Law School, where he was elected to Order of the Coif and served as an editor of the Stanford Law Review.
He also holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, which he received along with his JD in 1995.
He received the Attorney General's Award for Excellence in Furthering US National Security in 2003 and the Office of the Secretary of Defence Award for Excellence in 2005.