Monday, February 15, 2016


Many people regard federal appeals court justice Sri Srinavasan as a likely choice to replace Antonin Scalia, even though -- or perhaps because -- his time as a corporate litigator made some unions and liberal groups wary of him. The president is going to have hard time getting any pick approved, but if he picks a moderate, surely the right will at least refrain from demonizing the nominee ... right?

I don't know. I think the right will not only block any nominee, but also try to persuade the public that any nominee is deeply suspect, even one who defended Enron's Jeffrey Skilling and Exxon during his time in the private sector. How would right-wingers do that in Srinivasan's case?

I think it would get ugly and racist. I don't establishmentarians trying to turn Srinivasan into a suspect brown "other," but I can certainly imagine Donald Trump mocking him just for his name (which he'll claim he can't even pronounce, as if that's all you need to know about him -- his full name, by the way is Padmanabhan Srikanth Srinivasan), and I can imagine Trump and others pointing out that he's foreign-born (yes, he was born in India, but the Constitution doesn't require Supreme Court justices to be natural-born citizens).

I can also foresee a moment when Fox News "accidentally" identifies Srinivasan as a Muslim. He is, in fact, Hindu -- but please note that when he was sworn in as a federal judge, he took the oath on a copy of the Bhagavad-Gita. That will rile up a lot of True Patriots, so expect Fox and other conservative media outlets to make note of that repeatedly. (The oath, by the way, was administered by Sandra Day O'Connor, who clearly had no problem with the choice of holy book.)

In 2008, the Hillary Clinton campaign circulated a photo of Barack Obama in an African ceremonial outfit, taken during a visit by the future president to Kenya; releasing the photo was a cheap shot by Team Clinton, but the people who continue to circulate it are Obama's right-wing opponents. If a photo surfaces of Srinivasan in non-Western dress -- maybe at a wedding in India? -- I bet we'll see it quite frequently on Fox and right-wing websites.

Right-wingers will use whatever's at hand about any nominee, and work it as hard as they can. There are no safe picks for Obama.


AllieG said...

So what? So the crackpots and bigots will make crazy and bigoted charges. Isn't that the point of the exercise from Obama's side?

Gerald Parks said...


Blackstone said...

Steve is probably correct and while I don't approve of the tactic, I am Luke warm over this potential nominee as. It's not clear to me his jurisprudence would be reliable. On the other hand, I'd like to see Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal's response to such attacks.... could be interesting

Ten Bears said...

India Indians. Just sayin'.

How can the Retards say no to someone they only months ago voted unanimously to a seat on arguably the second highest court of the land? I don't care if he nominates a white guy, just nominate someone they can't say no to, and do it Monday morning. Turn it back in their faces.

Feud Turgidson said...

Blackstone, maybe you could point to an example or so of what you mean.

That Srinivasan acted for bad guys is a silly attack. I remember William Kuntsler saying he "only I acted for people I love", which is just as silly. Countless first-class, unquestionably ethically and morally irreproachable (as humans go) acted for really bad actors, and later because first-rate judges (or not: the correlation isn't all that strong). The KEY is those attorneys acted ethically within the process in insisting on the Rule of Law. Plus most people who think even briefly on such a silly attack recognize that if they were in legal trouble, they'd want the best attorney, not the best attorney who 'loves' them, or 'believes in' their cause. Almost every legal battle approaches a zero-sum outcome, and the best practicing attorneys will ALL tell you that 'True believer' attorneys tend to lose way more than any subset of attorneys should, BECAUSE they go in self-hobbled by their beliefs.

Finally, it may be worthwhile considering that in nominating Srinivasan to the DC Circuit Appeals Court, Obama may just have been thinking about THAT court, which has an outside role, even bigger than the SCOTUS, in the federal government's electronic surveillance programs in particular and how the executive and legislative branches function in general. A jurist with that special skill set is way more valuable in the DCCCA than in the SCOTUS, because the policy scope at the level of the SCOTUS is much much broader.

I've known about Srinavasan for a long time: he's a technician, a judge's judge, arguably the best 'legal process' mind around and undoubtedly among the best at that. His landing in the DCCCA didn't surprise me; his being thought of seriously for the SCOTUS does. And I'm pretty sure Obama sees him more-or-less the same way. His skill set would go to waste in the SCOTUS, IMO.

Jim Sweeney said...

It's been pointed out that Srinivasan's Asian, so appointing him, and subjecting him to the racist abuse of the right, might be helpful to Democrats in November, since there are actually a lot of Asians in swing states. An east Asian might be more useful in that regard than a south Asian, but the only such candidate I've seen mentioned is Goodwin Liu, who, while eminently qualified, is needed on the California Supreme Court.

Rand Careaga said...

Jim Sweeney: One hears Jacqueline Nguyen of the Ninth Circuit mentioned as a short-lister, and she was confirmed 91-3 for that post three years ago. It would be amusing to hear the GOP explain how she's actually unfit to clerk for a rural justice of the peace, much less fill Scalia's hobnailed boots. But one does grow weary of these people looking one in the eye and saying. "I'm lying. You know I'm lying. And I know that you know I'm lying. And fuck you anyway."

Grung_e_Gene said...

Oh dear, I'm sorry but you don't understand, they don't need to. The Republicans in Senate are simply going to say No and not allow Obama's nominee to be brought forward. Just like that. There is no downside to them just saying nope, Obama doesn't get to appoint a new judge.

They can't be shamed, threaten with losing elections, warned of damage to the constitution or the reputation of the SCOTUS.