Merrick Garland is the safest possible pick for President Barack Obama. Extraordinarily well-qualified, moderate and often pro-prosecution, Garland has been considered a potential Supreme Court nominee almost since 1997, when Bill Clinton put him on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. But if he isn't confirmed, it isn't a permanent loss for Democrats. Sri Srinivasan, his much younger near-clone, will still be waiting in the wings as a confirmable moderate Democratic back-up.
Among court-watchers, it's long been understood that Garland needed unique circumstances to be nominated: The retiree had to be a white man, and the Senate had to be Republican. Otherwise, why would a Democratic president nominate a moderate white man?
In recent years, the conventional wisdom regarding Garland was that his age -- he is now 63 -- would work against him. Sri Srinivasan, also on the D.C. Circuit, is just as smart as the whip-smart Garland; is only 49; and is South Asian and Hindu to boot, offering a touch of diversity. (Garland is white and Jewish; his almost too WASP-y name is the giveaway clue.)