WASHINGTON: The fate of US President Donald Trump’s immediate political future could land in the court of Indian-American Judge Sri Srinivasan as early as Monday if he seeks an “en banc” review of three-judge panel’s ruling that has rejected his claim of immunity from criminal charges of trying to subvert the 2020 election results.
The Trump campaign has indicated he would appeal the three-judge ruling without revealing which the two options he will exercise. Trump could appeal directly to the US Supreme Court, which could expedite the matter with no guarantee a decision will go his way despite its 6-3 conservative orientation. Alternately, he could ask for an “en banc” review — one in which the entire 15-judge appeals court weighs in — to drag out the process and try and run down the clock to Election Day on November 5.
If he chooses the latter course, the case will land in the court of Sri Srinivasan, chief judge of the DC Appeals court that is widely considered the second-most important court in the country, next only to the U.S. Supreme Court, because its geographic jurisdiction contains the US Capitol and the headquarters of the federal government, and it often deals with constitutional issues.
The Chandigarh-born Srinivasan is the first person of Indian origin to lead a federal court in the US. He was nominated to the appeals court by President Obama in 2013 and took oath on the Bhagavad Gita after sailing through a 97-0 Senate confirmation. The DC appeals court also has another Indian-American, the Detroit-born Trump-nominated Neomi Jehangir Rao. whose Parsi parents emigrated from India in 1972.
The appeals court bench that rejected Trump’s immunity claim has said the lower district court could resume preparations for a trial next Tuesday unless the former president asked the Supreme Court to halt proceeding by then. Many legal experts do not see Trump going to the SC first, and even if he does, not getting a favorable ruling despite three of the judges being his nominees, given the court’s track record on such issues.
“I do not think the Supreme Court will hear Trump’s appeal. Of course, anything can happen and it takes 4 of the 9 Justices to vote to hear a case. But Trump’s argument is so weak and the Court of Appeals decision so thorough and well done, I can see SCOTUS voting not to hear it,” Neal Katyal, a former US Acting Solicitor General and Supreme Court lawyer, said on X, formerly Twitter.
Trump also faces other legal pitfalls in the coming days, and one of them could trip him even before he decides on where to appeal his immunity case. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on Thursday on whether the state of Colorado can keep Trump off the presidential ballot because of the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
If the Supreme Court decides to uphold the Colorado decision, as some Constitutional experts are urging, then several other states could move to strike the Republican front runner from the primaries, much to the delight of many liberals and moderates, including never-Trumpers in the GOP. In fact, the lead plaintiff in the Colorado case is Norma Anderson, a 91-year old former Republican legislator, a never-Trumper who believes he has betrayed Republican ideals and hijacked the party.
In an NYT oped on Wednesday headlined The Supreme Court Should Get Out of the Insurrection Business, constitutional scholar Akhil Amar argued the apex court should recognize the primacy of states in the matter because the US Constitution allowed different states to use different procedures and protocols, and different standards of proof, to apply Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars from any “office, civil or military, under the United States” any important public servant who, after swearing an oath to the Constitution, engages in an “insurrection” or gives insurrectionists “aid or comfort.”
“The justices should seek a ruling that is originalist, modest and respectful of America’s democratic federalism,” Amar, a widely cited constitutional scholar, wrote in a review of putative SC thinking on the issue.
Regardless of the rulings in the cases, the next few weeks are fraught with tension in the political amphitheater, and in the US Capital, where local law enforcement officials are already preparing fortifications near the courts to prevent a recurrence of the January 6 rampage.

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