Sri Srinivasan Sworn in as Judge of Powerful US Court

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October 3, 2013

By Geeta Goindi

Sri Srinivasan taking the oath of office administered by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (left).  At right is his mother Mrs. Saroja Srinivasan.  Photo credit: Embassy of India, Washington

October 3, 2013

By Geeta Goindi

Sri Srinivasan taking the oath of office administered by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (left).  At right is his mother Mrs. Saroja Srinivasan.  Photo credit: Embassy of India, Washington

Washington, DC – It was a historic day: On September 26 legal luminary Srikanth ‘Sri’ Srinivasan was sworn-in as a federal Judge making him both the first Indian-American and South Asian to serve on the bench of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit which is regarded as the second most powerful court in the country after the Supreme Court.

In an overflowing Courtroom on Thursday afternoon, 46-year-old, Chandigarh born Srinivasan took the oath of office on the Bhagavad Geeta which was held by his mother Mrs. Saroja Srinivasan, beaming with pride and gratitude for her son’s stellar accomplishments.

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who administered the oath, called him “fair, faultless and fabulous”!  She gushed, “What a treat this is for all of us” and predicted he will “be a superb judge on the Court of Appeals and our nation will be enriched”.  Srinivasan has done all Indian-Americans proud and chalked up notches for India-US relations.

The special guest at the Investiture was Mrs. Gursharan Kaur, wife of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who landed in Washington a couple of hours before the ceremony, made a brief stopover at the hotel and came directly to the Courthouse.  Seated with her in the front row were their daughters, Upinder Singh, a professor and author, and Amrit Singh, a human rights lawyer.

At the Investiture of Sri Srinivasan (right) who was sworn-in as Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit are special guest Mrs. Gursharan Kaur (center), wife of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and their daughter Upinder Singh

Addressing her as “Mrs. Gursharan Kaur, the honorable First Lady”, Srinivasan said, “What a terrific thing that you are able to be here with us today, essentially fresh off the plane from India.  It means especially much to us given my father’s recent passing and the incredibly close relationship that the Prime Minister and you had with him and my Mom.  I know today is a very special day for you in the household, so I want to extend to the Prime Minister, a very happy birthday from all of us”!

The Ceremonial Courtroom in the E. Barrett Prettyman US Courthouse, venue of the revered function, and an adjacent room to accommodate the overflow crowd, were packed with about 400 distinguished guests including prominent Washington-area lawyers, senior Obama administration officials, Srinivasan’s friends and family.

President Obama, who described Srinivasan as a “trailblazer”, nominated him on June 11, 2012, and he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate, by a vote of 97-0, in May this year.  He has already proved to be one of the best advocates in the country and is now considered a potential Supreme Court nominee.

At the Investiture of Sri Srinivasan (right) who was sworn-in as Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit are seen from right to left: special guest Mrs. Gursharan Kaur, wife of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh; Sri’s mother Mrs. Saroja Srinivasan; Prime Minister’s daughter Upinder Singh; and Sri’s sister Srija Srinivasan.  Photo credit: Embassy of India, Washington

He is also a very eloquent speaker.  His address at the Investiture was laced with humor while offering insights and packing personal reflections.  He spoke straight from the heart!

“The overriding sensation that I feel today is a sense of how incredibly fortunate I have been so far”, he told the gathering.  “I can’t emphasize that enough and the participants in the proceedings today are a perfect illustration of that”, he said.

Partaking in the ceremony were: Chief Judge Merrick B. Garland; Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the Fourth Circuit; former Solicitor General Walter Dellinger; Professor Irving L. Gornstein, former colleague and a close personal friend; White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler; his sisters Srija and Srinija and his 11-year-old twins Maya and Vikram who Judge Garland called “the stars of the show”.

Srinivasan credits his parents for his stellar success!  “This kind of occasion happened and this kind of opportunity came along because of a decision my parents made a long time ago”, he said.  “My late father came from the humblest of humble beginnings from India.  The journey that took him from there to this country and took us all to this occasion is virtually inconceivable!  He brought us all to this country in search of the classic immigrant dream – the pursuit of opportunity and the happiness and fulfillment that comes with it because of the opportunities that this country affords.  I would like to think that those aspirations have been very much realized”.

Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s wife Mrs. Gursharan Kaur (left) was the special guest at the Investiture ceremony of Sri Srinivasan who was sworn-in as the newest federal Judge.  At right is his mother Mrs. Saroja Srinivasan

Srinivasan has both an unflinching faith in the legal system and the ability to succeed in America!  “My Dad grew to love this country because of the possibilities it gave us and this country loved us immensely back”, he said.  “There is no more sterling confirmation of that than this occasion today, what this occasion signifies, and the warmth and kindness that’s in this room”.

To his colleagues on the DC Circuit, he said, “You have welcomed me so warmly and so graciously and it is an incredible privilege to join your ranks.  The other judges in this building, the wonderful legal staff have extended me much kindness and shown great patience in answering many inane questions.  It has made me realize this is going to be the place that I am going to love to come every day”.

To his family, he said, “My sisters, Srija and Srinija, I have relied on your love from a very early age and it has sustained me throughout.  Maya and Vikram, you two give more love and inspiration to me than any parent can rightfully expect from a child.  To my Mom, you have been with all of us at every meaningful step of the way.  So, it is especially fitting that you were able to stand with me today to assist me in taking the oath of office”.

For all his phenomenal success, Srinivasan remains down-to-earth and it is his humility which endears him to all he meets!  This quality is sure to hold him in great stand as he forges ahead in his career.

Sri Srinivasan (right) mingling with guests who attended his swearing-in ceremony for Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Judge Wilkinson told the gathering that Srinivasan has “never believed he has all the answers” and was confident that he will “revive the lost art of listening” on the court.

Professor Gornstein attributed his success to a quest to learn!  “Sri always wants to learn from the best whether their views accord with his on every issue or not”, he told the gathering.  “And that distinguishes him from practically every other advocate”.

On a personal level, Gornstein admitted, “The partnership that we formed was the most gratifying of any professional experience that I have had”.  He was overcome with emotion while extolling Srinivasan’s virtues and conceded that he is biased because he loves him.  His advise to Sri: “Keep on being you”!


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