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Obama Weighs Republican Nevada Governor For Supreme Court

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Obama Weighs Republican Nevada Governor For Supreme Court


By Jeff Mason and Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican and former federal judge, is among candidates being considered by President Barack Obama for appointment to the Supreme Court, a source close to the process said on Wednesday, as Obama sought to overcome Senate Republican resistance to any nominee.

Sandoval, a 52-year-old Mexican-American, is considered a moderate Republican, particularly on social issues. He supports abortion rights and abandoned the state’s legal defense of a same-sex marriage ban before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that such bans were unconstitutional.

Sandoval has supported gun rights as governor, which could prompt concerns from gun-control advocates. He was appointed as a federal judge by Republican George W. Bush, Obama’s predecessor, before being elected governor in 2010.

An intense political fight has erupted since the Feb. 13 death of long-serving conservative Justice Antonin Scalia created an opening on the Supreme Court bench. Republicans are maneuvering to foil Obama’s ability to choose a replacement who could tilt the court to the left for the first time in decades.

The Republican-led Senate must confirm any high court nominee and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Tuesday that the chamber will not hold hearings or vote on any Supreme Court nominee until after the next president takes office in January.

Sandoval met on Monday in the U.S. Capitol for about 30 minutes with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada. Reid asked the governor whether he would be interested in being considered for the high court job, according to the source, who asked not to be identified.

“He said he was interested,” the source said of Sandoval, adding that “a number of people are being checked out” for the job.

Sandoval, who was in Washington for a National Governors’ Association meeting, also spoke to Reid by telephone last week, the source said.

Sandoval opposed Obama’s healthcare law known as Obamacare, but opted to expand his state’s Medicaid health insurance program for the poor under the law, breaking from a number of Republican governors who refused to do so.

    He also expressed support for bipartisan immigration legislation that passed the Senate in 2013 before dying in the House thanks to Republican opposition.

In 2013, Sandoval vetoed legislation to require background checks on all gun sales in Nevada. Last year, he signed a law backed by the National Rifle Association that, among other things, expanded the defenses for justifiable homicide and repealed a local ordinance in Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, that required registration of handguns.


Obama vowed on Wednesday to move ahead with a nominee and said Republicans would risk public ire if they blocked a qualified candidate for political motives, as well as diminishing the credibility of the high court.

Obama said he expected the Senate Judiciary Committee to extend his nominee the courtesy of a hearing and then vote on whether he or she is qualified.

“In the meantime, the American people are going to have the ability to gauge whether the person I’ve nominated is well within the mainstream, is a good jurist, is somebody who’s worthy to sit on the Supreme Court,” Obama told reporters in the Oval Office.

“I think it will be very difficult for Mr. McConnell to explain how, if the public concludes that this person’s very well qualified, that the Senate should stand in the way simply for political reasons.”

The president said he understood the political predicament Republicans faced and said he had expressed sympathy in calls to their leaders. He said they were sheepish in their arguments that a nominee should not be confirmed until next year and predicted their posture would change.

“I think the situation may evolve over time. I don’t expect Mitch McConnell to say that is the case today,” he said.

In a post on the independent SCOTUSblog.com website, Obama listed his criteria for a nominee including “an independent mind, rigorous intellect, impeccable credentials and a record of excellence and integrity.”

Liberals vowed to pressure Senate Republicans into considering an Obama nomination this year, with several groups delivering to the Senate boxes of what they said contained 1.3 million signatures from citizens demanding that a confirmation process go forward after the president announces his pick.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut said Republicans “are giving a middle finger to the American people and they are giving a middle finger to this president.”

The U.S. presidential election is set for Nov. 8 and Republicans want the next president to fill Scalia’s vacancy, hoping a Republican will be elected.

Scalia’s death left the court with four liberals and four conservatives, with Obama’s nominee positioned to change the court’s ideological balance.

Obama already has appointed two Supreme Court justices during his seven years as president. The Senate confirmed his prior two nominees, Sonia Sotomayor in 2009 and Elena Kagan in 2010. The Senate was controlled by Obama’s fellow Democrats at the time.

(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Lawrence Hurley and Joseph Ax; Writing by Will Dunham and Jeff Mason; Editing by Bill Trott)

Photo: Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-NV), official photograph.



  1. Darsan54 February 24, 2016

    If Obama thinks nominating a Republican will somehow appease McConnell and the other stupid Senators, he smoking something other than cigarettes. No, he should nominate a dyed in the wool Democratic liberal. Ef appeasement.

    1. Eleanore Whitaker February 25, 2016

      My guess is that it will be Loretta Lynch, the current Attny General.

  2. Otto Greif February 24, 2016

    How many pounds was he?

  3. FireBaron February 25, 2016

    Considering he has promised to overturn Roe v. Wade, and Obamacare, and support Citizens United and Kelo, he is just a stalking horse testing the Republican’s mettle. Do they really have the courage to not hold hearings if one of their own gets nominated?

    1. Eleanore Whitaker February 25, 2016

      and since they don’t plan to hold any meetings, the President is within his rights to choose a Republican to fill the vacancy and flip the bird at the Good Ole Good Ole Confederates of the GOP.

  4. Kurt CPI February 25, 2016

    This could well be a balloon floated to see if Republicans would reject someone who they would approve of if nominated by a Republican President, solely to spite Obama. But I have problems with nominating politicians for judicial positions. The judiciary is supposed to be the independent arm of reason when law collides with the Constitution. I guess here is where my independent status comes to light. Liberals seek to move ahead on things that are important to their sense of fairness, just like Republicans seek to expand their agendas. A Supreme Court Justice needs to be as apolitical as possible. The last place we need someone with a political agenda is at the end of the line. The Constitution must be respected. If found to be flawed it should be amended. The court should NEVER rule that law trumps it. In the case of the court, it should lean to the conservative side.

  5. Paul Bass February 25, 2016

    Just a test of GOP BS.
    Of course they would have to hold hearings, especially if Obama nominates a GOP.

    But, of course they will NOT give a vote on anyone, GOP is too nutless, and worry about being “Krugered” in the primary.

  6. paulyz February 25, 2016

    Looks like Obama knows the Republicans will most likely win the White House & keep control of Congress, why he pushes a so-called Moderate. Many Supreme Court picks by Republican Presidents ended up Moderate, but all the Liberals remained Liberal. Obama figures this is his best chance to replace Conservative Scalia with a Moderate now, than wait till after the elections. Nice try Obama, but we can wait several more months.

    1. CrankyToo February 25, 2016

      You’ll be waiting a helluva lot longer than “several more months”. A generation will pass before another Repugnican even gets to sniff the seat behind the Resolute Desk. And by then, the liberal-to-conservative ratio on the Supreme Court will be 9:0.

      1. paulyz February 26, 2016

        You better hope & pray that doesn’t happen, for our children’s sake, or do you only care about yourself?

        1. CrankyToo February 26, 2016

          You’re an actor – onstage at the Theater of the Absurd. I’m sitting in the audience – amused by your ramblings. I’ve seen this act before. I know how it goes and I know how it ends.

          Remember when you woke up on November 7, 2012, finally pulled your head out of your a$$ and wondered, “WTF just happened?”

          Well get in, sit down, shut up and hang on because you’re in for another of those WTF moments this coming November 9th.

          But you’ll be back to rant and rave about dragons and unicorns for another eight years under the dictatorship of the tyrant Bernie or Hillary (pick one). Because you wingdings will never learn….

  7. Thelma T. Reyna February 25, 2016

    Just from what I’ve read of Brian Sandoval, I’m not in favor of his nomination. Sounds too close to Scalia on healthcare and women’s rights to their bodies. I’m happy that our President is conscious of ethnic diversity being expanded on the bench, and I hope the ultimate new SCOTUS justice does indeed expand diversity. I also believe that the Filibuster Lord/Chief Obstructionist Mitch McConnell will continue to cement his place in US History as the most Do-Nothing Senator ever.

  8. Rodger Malcolm Mitchell February 25, 2016

    Obama is known as the “cave man,” not because he’s tough, but because he always is ready to cave.

  9. FT66 February 25, 2016

    So long McConnell and his team have already indicated they won’t do anything no matter what, I think Pres. Obama is showing them the right card, of which they might still not accept. That is the right game. Voters have already heard what McConnell has said, they will see whether McConnell will act or not. If he will not act, the campaign for the next president still goes on. Voters will become more angrier and angrier,of which will energise our party. Come November, voters will show a red card to the party that has been wasting their time for nothing. We have seen already, the more angry voters are, the more they show up to vote. By showing up to vote in droves, we will be able to kill three birds with only one stone: get the new president, be in control of the senate and hence get the person of our own choice in a Supreme Court.


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