President Barack Obama’s reportedly favorite candidate to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court represented Enron, ExxonMobil and other major energy firms, which is enraging environmentalists.
District of Columbia Circuit Court Judge Sri Srinivasan is widely considered to be on Obama’s short list to replace Scalia. The White House could be tapping Srinivasan for the high court because he’s already been confirmed by the Senate — the biggest political hurdle Obama has to face in getting someone on the court. But environmentalists are livid Obama would even think of appointing someone who worked for oil companies.
“Any judge that sides with Big Oil over the American people has no place on our Supreme Court,” Jane Kleeb, a Nebraska activist who helped lead opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, told Politico.
Srinivasan represented Enron CEO Jeff Skilling in 2010 while practicing law at O’Melveny & Myers LLP. He also defended ExxonMobil in 2011 for accusations from an Indonesian village that the company violated human rights laws. Srinivasan started working as a law clerk for conservative judges, including Sandra Day O’Connor. His appointment to the D.C. Circuit Court was supported by solicitor generals appointed by former President George W. Bush.
Since Srinivasan’s appointment to the D.C. court in 2013, however, he has sided with environmentalists who were suing against federal regulations, which shielded companies from litigation. Srinivasan also opposed issuing a stay against Obama’s Clean Power Plan, and even represented Al Gore while he was contesting the 2000 election results.
Srinivasan served as Obama’s deputy solicitor general from 2011 to 2013 and argued 25 cases before the Supreme Court. He was unanimously confirmed as a federal judge by the Senate in 2013. If appointed, he would be the first Indian-American justice.
Additionally, his views on other hotly contested issues facing the Supreme Court, such as Citizens United and affirmative action in college admissions, are unclear, which would make opposing him politically difficult for the Senate.
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