Updated at 3:54 p.m.
As the U.S. Senate dukes it out over President Barack Obama's pending picks for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the only confirmed nominee to that bench will begin hearing cases next month.
Judge Sri Srinivasan, who was confirmed to the D.C. Circuit in May, will have his investiture ceremony on September 26—shortly after he sits on his first three-judge panel for oral argument. The fall term of the D.C. Circuit begins on September 9.
A review of Srinivasan's schedule shows that in his first month of hearing cases, his docket includes one en banc hearing, two appeals from criminal cases and a slew of challenges to federal agency actions.
The court doesn't hear arguments over the summer, except on an emergency basis, so Srinivasan’s work so far has included reviewing briefs and handling other court business. He couldn’t be reached today for comment on how he's preparing for his first term of arguments. He previously argued before the court as a top lawyer for O’Melveny & Myers and, prior to his appointment, served as the principal deputy solicitor general in the U.S. Justice Department.
Srinivasan's first day on the bench is September 11, according to the D.C. Circuit's calendar. The first case scheduled for arguments is an appeal of an order denying a criminal defendant's motion to suppress evidence of drugs found in his home. Serving on a three-member panel with Judges Judith Rogers and David Tatel, Srinivasan will also hear two cases involving federal agencies.
In one of the agency cases, vehicle manufacturers are challenging a decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to allow a competitor to sell engines the petitioners claimed failed to meet an emissions standard they had to follow. In the second case, a lawyer for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals contends the National Institutes of Health wrongfully denied a Freedom of Information Act request for information on complaints of violations of the Animal Welfare Act at a federally funded institution.
On September 18, Srinivasan will sit with Judges Karen LeCraft Henderson and Senior Judge David Sentelle, a former chief judge of the D.C. Circuit. The first case is a criminal defendant's appeal of an order finding him ineligible for a sentence reduction under amendments to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. The panel will also hear two agency cases.
In the first agency case that day, Srinivasan will hear arguments challenging the dismissal of a lawsuit filed against the Air Force over a decision to use in-house resources for multimedia services at a military base; a district court judge found the U.S. Court of Federal Claims alone had jurisdiction to hear the case. The second case deals with questions of whether a whistleblower filed timely claims against the Environmental Protection Agency.
Finally, on September 30, Srinivasan will sit with the rest of his D.C. Circuit colleagues—seven other judges at this point—to consider a challenge to a federal law barring federal contractors from making campaign donations. The contractors are being represented by represented by George Washington University Law School professor Alan Morrison and Arthur Spitzer of the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation's Capital.
Srinivasan won't sit on another en banc panel scheduled for the same day. The case explores whether the Military Commissions Act of 2006 permits the prosecution of crimes that include conspiracy and material support for terrorism in situations where the offenses occurred before the law was enacted. The court docket doesn't indicate why Srinivasan isn't sitting, but the review of the case included senior Justice Department officials and other executive agencies during the time Srinivasan was a top government appellate lawyer.
The court has yet to post the calendar for the rest of the fall term.
Whether Srinivasan will be joined by Obama's three pending nominees to the court remains to be seen. Patricia Millett, a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 1. The committee hasn't voted on Georgetown University Law Center professor Cornelia Pillard, who had her confirmation hearing on July 24. U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins has yet to appear before the committee.