Orrin Hatch, Mike Lee and shaping tomorrow's Supreme Court

Published: Wednesday, April 10 2013 4:35 p.m. MDT

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, right, speaks during a Tea Party town hall meeting as Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, left, and Rep. Allen West, R-Fla. listen, at the National Press Club in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011.

Cliff Owen, ASSOCIATED PRESS

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The future composition of the U.S. Supreme Court could very well be at stake Wednesday when Deputy Solicitor General Sri Srinivasan appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee for his confirmation hearing to join a federal appeals court.

In a Tuesday blog post titled “The Supreme Court Nominee in Waiting,” The New Yorker legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin wrote, “Technically, Sri Srinivasan is just a candidate for the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, but few are misled. The stakes in this nomination are clear: if Srinivasan passes this test and wins confirmation, he’ll be on the Supreme Court before President Obama’s term ends.”

Utah’s two Republican senators, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, will both participate in the hearing as part of the exclusive 18-member Senate Judiciary Committee. To date, the GOP has effectively blocked President Barack Obama’s nominees for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Srinivasan, the top U.S. Deputy Solicitor General, was nominated last summer,” Sahil Kapur reported last week for Talking Points Memo. “His Senate hearings come shortly after threatened Republican filibusters forced the withdrawal of Caitlin Halligan to the coveted court. Four of 11 seats are vacant on the D.C. Circuit, having been mired by filibusters.”

Born in India and raised in Kansas, Srinivasan holds three degrees from Stanford. He has argued more than 20 cases before the Supreme Court, including his appearance last month in the highly publicized case concerning the Defense of Marriage Act. Amid a polarized political climate, Srinivasan’s nomination is unique for the high level of bipartisan support it has generated.

“(Srinivasan) won support from 12 former officials in the solicitor general's office including such Democrats as Walter Dellinger and Republicans Paul Clement, Theodore Olson and Kenneth Starr,” NPR’s Carrie Johnson reported last week.

Jamshid Ghazi Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at jaskar@desnews.com or 801-236-6051.

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