One Of These Three Men May Be Obama’s Selection As Supreme Court Justice

President Barack Obama may announce his selection for the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court as early as this week.

Since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia on February 13, there has been rampant speculation about who Obama may nominate to fill Scalia’s seat. A source told Reuters on Friday, that Obama has his selection narrowed down to these three men: Srikanth Srinivasan, Paul Watford, and Merrick Garland.

Srikanth Srinivasan  

Image via the U.S. Department of Justice under a Public Domain License.

Srinivasan, pronounced SREE-nee-vah-sun, is a 49-year-old Indian-American who currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Srinivasan grew up in Lawrence, Kansas. He earned three degrees, including his juris doctor, at Stanford University.

After law school, Srinivasan clerked for then Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. In addition, he served as Solicitor General under two presidents, Obama and George W. Bush.

Srinivasan has a reputation as being a very bipartisan individual who gets along with everyone. As a result, in 2013, the Senate ended up unanimously confirming him in a 97-0 vote.

Srinivasan was the first Asian-American who sat on the bench for the U.S. Court of Appeal. If confirmed, he will not only be the first Asian-American, but also the first Hindu to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sources speculate that Srinivasan may be Obama’s number one pick.

Paul J. Watford

Image via United States Federal Court System under a Public Domain License.

The other judge that also may contend for the number one spot is Watford. At 48-years-old, he is the youngest possible nominee. Watford currently sits on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Watford is from Orange County, California. He attended UC Berkely as an undergraduate, and then went on to UCLA Law School. Watford clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney where he prosecuted fraud and white collar crime. Prior to his 2012 confirmation, Watford also practiced as an appellate attorney for a private law firm.

In 2012, the Senate confirmed his 9th Circuit seat in a 61-34 vote. Though he received praise from some conservative senators, Watford was not considered a “consensus nominee.” As a result, he may face a hard time in what will already be an uphill battle for an Obama Supreme Court nominee.

If selected and confirmed, Watford would be the third Black justice on the U.S. Supreme Court following Justices Clarence Thomas and Thurgood Marshall.   

Merrick Garland

Image is a screengrab from Youtube.

Currently serving alongside Srinivasan, Garland is the chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

At 63-years-old, Garland has been down this road two times before as he was previously on Obama’s shortlist, but lost to Justices Sonya Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Garland graduated with honors from Harvard College and then Harvard Law School, in 1974 and 1977 respectively. He clerked with U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. Garland then went on to serve in various public positions, including Assistant U.S. Attorney and Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General.

Appointed by President Bill Clinton, Garland has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals since 1997. His two decade long career may be a hinderance, given that he has decided more cases than the contenders, combined. This gives Republican senators more cases to dissect, and possibly a longer confirmation process, if one is given at all.

Garland earned his seat with confirmation with a 76-23 vote.

The Senate Blockade

Regardless of who Obama selects, the nominee will have to face a Republican Senate who may not even be willing to schedule confirmation hearings.

Within an hour of the news breaking about Scalia’s death, Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell announced that Senate Republicans will do everything in their power to prevent Obama from nominating a new Justice. They are relying on a ridiculous “unspoken” Senate rule, when in reality, their blockade is only a political undertaking without any Constitutional basis for their stance.

Given their strong stance against confirming an Obama nominee, Obama may have better luck and a stronger argument with Srinivasan given that he was unanimously approved by the Senate in 2013. Further, he is young and has the least amount of appellate decisions under his belt for the Republicans to pick away at. If Republicans want the minority vote, they may win some by confirming Srinivasan.

By denying the President his constitutional right to nominate a Supreme Court Justice, this Senate is setting a very awful precedent. Their partisan behavior has led to the Senate repeatedly preventing or ignoring any issue that the President supports. If the they continue with their obstructionism, they will solidify this Senate as one of the worse in U.S. history.

Featured image is a screengrab from Youtube