Obama vetting GOP governor Sandoval for Supreme Court vacancy

I guess the Obama administration wants to see just how far the Republicans will go with their refusal to even meet with nominees for the Supreme Court vacancy left by Antonin Scalia — let along hold confirmation hearings or an actual vote.

From the Washington Post:

Brian Sandoval, the centrist Republican governor of Nevada, is being vetted by the White House for a possible nomination to the Supreme Court, according to two people familiar with the process.

Sandoval is increasingly viewed by some key Democrats as perhaps the only nominee President Obama could select who would be able to break a Republican blockade in the Senate.

I guess Sandoval gets away with being described as a “centrist” because a Democratic administration is vetting him for a seat on the Supreme Court. He’s also viewed as being somewhat less than reactionary on reproductive health and the environment, two issues that the Court is set to consider in the near future. He has also said that he considers marriage to be a settled issue.

However, none of this makes Sandoval a particularly impressive nominee. He hasn’t weighed in on other issues pertinent to the LGBT community — whether employment discrimination against LGBT people is already illegal under the Civil Rights Act’s protections against sex discrimination, for example. There is also no indication as to how he feels about campaign finance and voting rights — two systemic issues that could come to define the Court in the coming years.

Brian Sandoval, via Wikimedia Commons

Brian Sandoval, via Wikimedia Commons

As the Post reports, Sandoval’s judicial resume is also thinner than the other likely names the administration is considering. Sandoval successfully ran for Nevada attorney general in 2002, and left that post when he was unanimously confirmed as a US District Court judge in 2005, but his career in the judiciary ended in 2010 when he launched his gubernatorial bid. In short, he simply hasn’t spent that much time as a jurist.

Given the op-ed President Obama published today in SCOTUSblog, it would seem that Sandoval’s relatively short stint in the judiciary would make him an unlikely choice to eventually receive the nod. As Obama wrote, “First and foremost, the person I appoint will be eminently qualified.  He or she will have an independent mind, rigorous intellect, impeccable credentials, and a record of excellence and integrity.  I’m looking for a mastery of the law, with an ability to hone in on the key issues before the Court, and provide clear answers to complex legal questions.” Sandoval may be as close as Obama can get to being politically qualified, but “eminently” qualified? That’s a major stretch.

This makes floating Sandoval’s name feel like a purely political move. If Obama actually follows through on it, it’ll be the quintessential example of negotiating with himself, but more likely he’s aiming see if there are any cracks in the Senate Republicans’ wall of unprecedented obstruction in the confirmation process.

I’m not sure he’ll find too many.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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28 Responses to “Obama vetting GOP governor Sandoval for Supreme Court vacancy”

  1. Emily Evans-Williams says:

    Hahaha, Sorry, that was a take on many of the headlines I read that is supposed to encourage reading. I want an Elizabeth Warren, with or without the gop’s exploding parts.

  2. Emily Evans-Williams says:

    I’m not democratic but an independent liberal and vote everytime. You are correct–I was seething when I learned democrats didn’t vote. They deserve what the GOP throws at them, but we don’t! Maybe the democratic leaders need to fire up their arses with fear like the GOP does. LOL

  3. Emily Evans-Williams says:

    Thank you. I didn’t realize this. I’m a loud FDR Liberal Progressive, and have been in the fighting mode since before the Supremes stole the election from Gore. I know one GOP said organizing democrats was like herding cars, but I’m an independent and would swim a river to vote for Bernie–and I can’t swim! Hopefully, the younger Progressives will be more active.

  4. 2karmanot says:

    I certainly hope not, otherwise it’s so like Obama to take an important pivotal point in history and reduce his response to a compromised mediocrity.

  5. Demosthenes says:

    I respectfully disagree. It’s not about making anyone’s head explode. It’s about getting a Scalia replacement who is an improvement confirmed.

  6. Demosthenes says:

    I wish I could upvote you more than once. Democrats not bothering to show up and vote in 2010 & 2014 led to our current Congress and most states being GOP led. Nonvoters who hate the GOP Congress and the Republican led states only have themselves to blame.

    Get off your butts and vote or STFU!!!

  7. The_Fixer says:

    Right, because Sandoval is not on board with their agenda. They want someone who is not reasonable, rather, someone who buys into their forced-birth, pro-religion, anti-immigrant and big-wealth-boosting agenda.

    I think he’s doing this with an eye toward the election. He’s trying to subtly say “See, this is what Republicans are offering this cycle, pure obstructionism. Think of this when you vote.”

    The problem is, Trumpo the Clown has proven that subtlety is not what a lot of the electorate responds to. While it’s fine to act Presidential and all that, but he’s been banging his head against the wall on this for 7 years and it sure would be nice if he stood up and called bullshit on these twits at least once in a while.

    He’s smart enough to do that while still looking Presidential.

  8. marknc says:

    Republicans have already come out to say they won’t even consider him even though he is a Republican.

  9. The_Fixer says:

    He’s obviously doing this to screw with the Republicans. This little leak is designed to tweak the Republicans, and little else.

    It’s maddening, for sure. We don’t need another Republican on the Supreme Court, even one who is “moderate” (a term that does not mean what we traditionally think it means).

    The Republican professional obstructionists in the Senate will find fault with Sandoval and in the end, do what they always do – obstruct. This will win President Obama no points, and is pretty much a waste of time.

  10. dcinsider says:

    Sadly, progressives have failed to give Obama and the Democrats the cover he needs to do such things because progressives don’t vote. That is the sad reality that progressives will not admit.

    Progressives are lazy. For all the “feel the Bern” BS, progressives simply fail to give their party and the politicians the pressure that right-wing nutjobs do.

    Anti-choice people will march in sub-zero temperatures. They will never give up. Progressives find it hard to go to Starbucks when the temperature dips below 40.

    Our country has shifted right because progressives cannot get organized and cannot get off their lazy butts to do the hard work it takes to truly put forth a progressive agenda.

    Until progressives get active, their computer based advocacy will continue to accomplish nothing. Change requires sweat, work, and unpleasant tasks that progressives won;t do, but conservatives will.

    That, my friend, is why this country has shifted right. Don’t blame Obama, or Hillary, or anyone else, blame yourself and your lazy friends.

  11. dcinsider says:

    This is a float. Lots of folks get vetted for these positions, and never make the top cut. By floating this guy, Obama is tweaking the noses of the GOP who refuse to even meet with potential nominee. This is the fun part of the process for the White House. Expect to see other GOP names floated in the coming weeks prior to an announcement of the real appointee.

    It’s political gamesmanship. He’s not nominating this guy.

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  13. Emily Evans-Williams says:

    Why aren’t you running? Your comments have intellect and wisdom! We need more of this!

  14. Emily Evans-Williams says:

    Demosthenes: Actually, the president isn’t in any spot at all. He can nominate anyone he wants and sit back and watch the senate either turn their backs or chew up the nominee and spit him out. Obama seems to want to confront the repukes and their obstruction. But I wouldn’t pick a centrist repuke, since they refuse even to talk with the nominee. I would pick an Elizabeth Warren or her progressive equivalent. Let their heads explode!

  15. BeccaM says:

    I hope so.

  16. Doug105 says:

    At this moment it amounts to gossip.

  17. angryspittle says:

    Damnit, why doesn’t he wait until after Jan 3rd and then nominate a real damn liberal to the bench?

  18. BeccaM says:

    For fuck’s sake… Would a GOP president EVER nominate a Democratic governor for the Supreme Court?

    I hope this is just a gesture and not actually serious. Because if it is serious, I then find myself on the GOP side of wanting obstruction.

  19. He’s going to capitulate and nominate a fucking Republican?

    Hey! Obama! They don’t like you and never will, so stop with this pathetic Stockholm Syndrome bullshit!

  20. Baal says:

    No more compromises!

  21. Demosthenes says:

    Don’t despair. It’s a classic trial ballon leak.

  22. Demosthenes says:

    Pres. Obama is in a tough spot, which is why he (obviously) leaked this story. In my opinion, his smart move is to nominate a centrist sitting federal court judge previously unanimously confirmed by the GOP Senate. Such a nominee puts many of the GOP senators in a tough position. Indeed, if it appears The Donald may be the nominee, it’s possible some of them may calculate a highly qualified moderate is a better appointment than waiting for future President Clinton (and a likely Democratic majority Senate, which would be a likely occurrence if she wins in November).

    A centrist replacement for Mr. Scalia would be a huge change for the better.

  23. Emily Evans-Williams says:

    Judybrowni: my husband and I worked for that man to get elected. The pit of my stomach lurched when I read the title. What is wrong with Obama!? I can actually hold down my dinner, listening to a trump or a despicable cruz, but reading about a traitorous centrist president that sells out Progressives, makes me want to hurl! What’s wrong with this country and people?!?! I want to pack my bags and move!

  24. Emily Evans-Williams says:

    LMAO! Thanks for that. I needed a laugh. Obama just angers me. Why, WHY, would he even think of nominating a republican? We need an Elizabeth Warren in the Supreme Court! Nothing less than 100% thinking Progressive.

  25. Emily Evans-Williams says:

    I guess this is Obama’s last FU! to Progressives and Liberals, who worked hard to get him elected twice! The total dishonest, spiteful, obstructionists, democracy-destroying-tea-bag-fanatical-religious-.001% supported GOP does not anger me as much as our “centrist” president, who continues to bend over for the GOP. They hate this black man–when will he finally realize that he is making an ass out of himself by kowtowing to these people for almost 8 years, while he’s flipped off the very people who got him elected two times? Nominate a Progressive! What is wrong with you, Obama? Why give the “Supreme” Court back to the totally “disturbed” GOP?

  26. justsomeguy05 says:

    Poster JudyBrowni must be a mindreader – she typed exactly what I was thinking.

    For Obama to nominate a conservative means the Republicans can approve him if it seems that they are about to lose the Presidency in November. Or NOT approve him if they think they will win in November. Either way they win. Great work from Reagan-worshipping Obama.

  27. Demosthenes says:

    In a surprise move, Pres. Obama named Texas Sen. “Ted” Cruz as his nominee to fill the Scalia vacancy on the Supreme Court. GOP senators reached for comment committed to prevent consideration of Mr. Cruz. Senate Majority Leader Yertle the Turtle stated: “I stand on principle that any Obama nominee will be considered, especially a complete jerk like Mr. Cruz.” Democratic presidential front runner and former Senator Clinton responded to Mr. Yertle by guffawing so long that she got vertigo and had to be seated.

  28. judybrowni says:


    As if Republican Presidents didn’t nominate enough right wing ideologues to the Supreme Court.

    We need a Democratic President to throw the court to the right for another 40 years?

    Give us a fucking break.

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