Washington – Obama administration is considering appointing Republican governor for Nevada and former federal judge, Brian Sandoval, as the candidate to fulfill the empty sit on the Supreme Court. Leaders in the Republican-led Senate maintain firm in their threat to block anyone Obama nominates, sources close to the process said.
Sandoval has been described as a moderate Republican before. He has taken the traditional Republican stance in support of gun rights but has a more moderate view in social-related issues like abortion rights, which could turn him into an attractive choice for the Democratic president, as reported by Reuters.
Although the reviewing process of the potential nominee is still in early stages and is unclear whether he would actually be the president’s pick for the seat, even the prospect of his nomination poses a difficult dilemma for Senate Republicans who have promised not to consider any nomination before November’s election, and apparently even a Republican nominee holds those treats.
Since the death on February 13 of the long-serving conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, a vacancy on the Supreme Court has opened. Until now the nine-seat court has been dominated by conservatives and they fear that for the first time in decades a replacement could tilt the court to the left. The deceased Scalia left the court with four liberals and four conservatives.
“This nomination will be determined by whoever wins the presidency in the fall,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as the Republicans hope to win back the White House then.
Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee that would hold any confirmation hearings, supported McConnel by saying that it was the principle, not the person.
While the White House looks for a candidate that they believe lawmakers from both parties could support, it is very unlikely for Obama to choose any Republican, even a centrist. The Democratic political base would most likely object such a choice as risk Obama is unlikely to take during an election year.
Sandoval’s possibly nomination also raised alarms in some liberal groups. Charles Chamberlain of the group Democracy of America referred to the nomination as “downright absurd” that Obama would risk his legacy by appointing another “anti-labor Republican” to an already pro-big business Supreme Court.
Is the Republican governor even interested in being the Democratic president’s pick?
Although a Sandoval’s spokesman, Mari St. Martin, said on Wednesday that neither the governor nor his staff has been contacted by or talked to the Obama administration about the nomination, the governor met on Monday in the U.S. Capitol for about 30 minutes with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada, a close ally of Obama, according to a private source from Reuters.
The source said that Reid asked Sandoval whether he would be interested in being considered for the high court, to which he answered positively. Although he has not made his final decision, he agreed to allow the vetting process to move forward, as reported by The Washington Post.
When asked about the potential nomination on Saturday, Sandoval told the Morning Consult that it would be a privilege as he referred to the Supreme Court as the “essence of the justice in this country”.