Q. When is it okay to punish a lawyer for the clients he’s represented?
A. When the clients are disfavored by the Left.
That, at least, would seem to be the lesson to be drawn from the apparent demise of Sri Srinivasan’s planned nomination to the D.C. Circuit. According to reliable sources, the White House had settled on Srinivasan to fill one of the two vacancies on the D.C. Circuit. (Both of the vacancies predate President Obama’s inauguration; indeed, the older one is the seat John Roberts vacated in 2005 to become Chief Justice.) But the Left then went after Srinivasan, in part because of union animosity to his corporate clients in private practice, in part because, in his former capacity as an assistant to the Solicitor General, Srinivasan advocated the positions of the Bush administration on Guantanamo war-on-terror detainee issues. And the prospect of Srinivasan’s getting the nomination now appears to be dead.
(I don’t mean by this post to be seen as taking the position that it’s never proper to draw inferences about a lawyer based on the clients he represents. That is in fact not my position. For present purposes, I’ll limit myself to the general observation that of the three areas of government practice, paid private practice, and pro bono practice, the areas that least justify the drawing of inferences about a lawyer based on his clients are government practice and paid private practice.)