Trump names Indian American Vijay Shanker as DC judge

Vijay Shankar
Vijay Shankar; image via LinkedIn

Vijay Shanker joins several Indian Americans in important judicial posts.

Tapping yet another Indian American for a key post, President Donald Trump has nominated Justice Department official Vijay Shanker as Associate Judge on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in Washington.

The White House announced the nomination of Shanker, currently Deputy Chief of the Appellate Section in of the Criminal Division and Senior Litigation Counsel at the Justice Department on Thursday.

His appointment to a 15-year term to the highest court of the nation’s capital will have to be approved by the Senate.

Shanker joins several Indian Americans who serve or have been nominated to important positions in the judiciary.

The most influential among them is Sri Srinivasan, who serves as  the chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, which is considered to be the second most important court after the Supreme Court in the US judicial system.

Before joining the Department of Justice in 2012, Shanker was in private practice with the Washington, DC, offices of Mayer Brown, LLP, and Covington & Burling, LLP.

READ: Trump nominates Indian American lawyer Neomi Rao to DC Circuit Court of Appeals (November 15, 2018)

Upon graduation from law school, Shanker served as a law clerk to Judge Chester J. Straub on the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Shanker earned his BA, cum laude, from Duke University and his JD from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he served as a Notes Editor for the Virginia Law Review and was inducted into the Order of the Coif.

A recipient of the Attorney General’s John Marshall Award and the Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service, Shanker also serves as an adjunct associate professor at the Washington College of Law of the American University.

The South Asian Bar Association of Washington has endorsed Shanker’s nomination writing to the Judicial Nomination Commission that he is “immensely qualified”.

The Association noted that he “has drafted briefs for the Solicitor General for filing in the US Supreme Court and was part of a five-person team selected to litigate an aspect of the Guantanamo Bay military commission proceedings against (Pakistan born) Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and the other masterminds of 9/11”.

“In addition to Mr. Shanker’s strong qualifications, we note that his appointment to this position would enhance the diversity of the D.C. Court of Appeals bench,” Amisha R. Patel, president of SABA-DC, stated in a letter to the Judicial Nomination Commission, dated March 25, 2020. “As a first-generation South Asian American — the son of immigrants from India who moved to the United States in the 1960s in search of the American dream — Mr. Shanker brings a unique perspective as someone who has been the subject of assumptions and stereotypes about himself and his family for his entire life. In a city full of immigrants like the District, we can think of no more important perspective to bring to the Court to increase access and acceptability of justice.”

Another Indian American judge, Neomi Rao, who was appointed to the DC Court of Appeals by Trump, was in the news recently for writing the majority opinion asking a lower court judge to drop the case against the President’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn at the request of Justice Department.

Trump appointed Amul Roger Thapar a judge of Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio, that has jurisdiction over federal courts in four states.

An Obama appointee, Vince Chhabria serves on the federal court for Northern California in San Francisco.

Last month, Trump nominated Saritha Komatireddy to be a judge on the federal court for the Eastern District of New York.

Shireen Mathews has been nominated by Trump to the federal court for Southern California in San Diego.

Amit P. Mehta was appointed by Obama as a judge on the District of Columbia Court, which is under the Court of Appeals to which Shanker has been nominated.

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