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GOP showers praise on judicial nominee

| Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 7:09 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Influential Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said Wednesday that he intends to support President Obama's choice to fill a vacancy on the federal appeals court in Washington.

His support is considered a promising development for a Democratic administration that has complained Republicans have been too slow to allow votes on many of its judicial nominees.

Of the court's seven active judges, four are GOP appointees, and three are Democratic appointees. The court has four vacancies — giving Obama the opportunity to shift the balance of the court. Six senior judges on the court handle reduced caseloads.

Hatch told Sri Srinivasan at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that he would make a “great” judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. At another point, Hatch told Srinivasan: “I think you're terrific.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, completed his questioning of Srinivasan by telling him: “I thank you for a very fine job here today.”

As the principal deputy solicitor general for the United States, Srinivasan has argued cases to the Supreme Court. He also has represented clients in private practice.

Srinivasan, 46, deflected questions about positions he took as a lawyer, saying they did not represent his personal views.

He told the senators that he had “no grand unifying theory” and would approach his job as judge on “case-by-case basis.” He presented himself as someone with great respect for precedent, which might help allay GOP concerns that Obama will try to reshape the court with “judicial activists.”

The D.C. circuit is considered the second most influential court in the country, behind the Supreme Court, and often serves as a feeder for the top court. Four Supreme Court justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, served on the D.C. circuit.

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