Senate confirms Obama nominee to key appeals court

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By HENRY C. JACKSON, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — After five years of trying, President Barack Obama has placed his first nominee on a key appeals court in Washington.

The Senate voted unanimously on Thursday to confirm Sri Srinivasan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The court is considered the most important in the country after the Supreme Court. The Senate voted 97-0 in favor of his nomination.

Srinivasan is currently the principal deputy in the Office of the Solicitor General. He has worked in both Democratic and Republican administrations and served as a law clerk to former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

In debate on Srinivasan's nomination, Democrats and Republicans universally praised his legal qualifications, in many cases using similar adjectives. Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa and Chris Coons, D-Del., both praised Srinivasan's temperament.

"I can say without question, he has the background the skills and perhaps most importantly the temperament to serve as a circuit court judge," Coons said.

Republican Sen. Jerry Moran, of Kansas, paid tribute to Srinivasan's Midwestern roots. He noted that Srinivasan grew up in Lawrence, Kan., once playing as a guard in a high-school lineup that included Kansas Jayhawk legend and NBA star Danny Manning.

"Sri is a fellow Kansan and one of our state's most accomplished legal minds," Moran said.

Srinivasan will join the bench of a court with influence that stems from its frequent hearing of cases involving federal laws and regulations. The court has also served as a supply line to the Supreme Court -- four of the current high court's justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, served on the appeals court.

In addition to being Obama's first nominee to the court, Srinivasan is the first judge to be seated to the court in seven years since Roberts left the court to go to the Supreme Court. Srinivasan was first nominated nearly one year ago.

Srinivasan's unanimous, bipartisan support was a stark contrast to Obama's previous nominee for the District of Columbia Circuit, Caitlin Halligan. A New York lawyer, Halligan withdrew her nomination after it was blocked by Republicans who said she was too liberal and didn't strictly interpret the Constitution.

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