WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- The U.S. Senate has confirmed Sri Srinivasan to the eighth seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Srinivasan, who currently serves as the principle deputy solicitor general, fills one of four vacancies on the 11-seat court, and is President Barack Obama's first D.C. Circuit judge.

On Thursday, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., filed a cloture petition to force a vote, the Senate agreed to vote on the merits and unanimously -- in a 97-0 vote -- confirmed Srinivasan.

Srinivasan was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee just seven days ago, making his time pending on the Senate floor short for an Obama judicial nominee.

The President nominated Srinivasan for the first time last year and re-nominated him in January.

Srinivasan will fill the seat left by Judge Arthur Randolph.

The court is considered by some to be the second most important court in the country, after the U.S. Supreme Court.

It often is responsible for resolving critically important cases involving the separation of powers, the role of government, the rights of federal officials, and the decisions of a vast array of administrative agencies.

In fact, it was the D.C. Circuit that ruled Obama's "intrasession appointment" of three new members to the National Labor Relations Board was an unconstitutional abuse of power because he could not make those appointments without Senate confirmation because the Senate was not in recess.

However, the court has more vacancies than any other federal appeals court.

In March, Caitlin Halligan took her name out of consideration after Republicans blocked her nomination again and again for more than two years.

And Rudolph's seat was left vacant for nearly 2,800 days.

American Constitution Society President Caroline Fredrickson was pleased with the Senate's overwhelming support of Srinivasan.

"Today's action also makes it clear that the Senate is quite capable of quick turnarounds for judicial nominees waiting for a vote," she said in a statement Thursday afternoon. "Sri's short wait on the floor should be the standard, not the exception, for all nominees.

"We look forward to the White House's future nominations to the D.C. Circuit and hope the Senate will act swiftly to give them an up or down vote."

Founded in 2001, ACS is a network of lawyers, law students, scholars, judges and policymakers that promotes the U.S. Constitutional values of "individual rights and liberties, genuine equality, access to justice, democracy and the rule of law."

Justice at Stake Director of Federal Affairs and Diversity Initiatives Praveen Fernandes called the Senate vote a "welcome break."

"We applaud the fact that Senators were able to come together in a bipartisan manner to confirm a nominee to the D.C. Circuit, which saw its last confirmation back in 2006," he said in a statement.

"Justice at Stake has always held that absent extraordinary circumstances, the judicial nominees of every President deserve an up-down vote. This position remains the same regardless of which party controls the presidency and regardless of which party controls the Senate.

"We'd like to see the cooperative spirit that moved Senators to work together on this confirmation continue in the future."

The People for the American Way, a liberal progressive advocacy group, congratulated Srinivasan on his confirmation, but still took shots at Republicans.

"The fact that Sen. Reid was forced to file cloture in order to secure an agreement with Republicans to vote on a nominee whom they enthusiastically support is a sign of how far Senate Republicans have taken their mindless obstruction," Executive Vice President Marge Baker said in a statement.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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