Following Justice Antonin Scalia’s death on Saturday, there’s been debate over whether President Barack Obama should nominate a replacement, and if the Republican-controlled Senate should block any and all nominations until the president’s final term runs out.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in a statement that Scalia’s seat on the bench should not be filled by the Obama administration, arguing that “the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice.”
But in a post to The Fix titled “5 possible Supreme Court picks that could make Republicans squirm,” The Washington Post’s Amber Phillips says Obama could still move ahead with finding someone to put before the Senate.
“Outside the Beltway, there’s one name that could really make things awkward for Republicans mostly because he’s such a qualified candidate,” she writes about Sandoval.
She lists the facts that he’s Republican, Hispanic, a former federal judge and moderate on certain issues like abortion, immigration and same-sex marriage.
“The governor is such a consensus-building candidate that, by picking him, Obama would be extending an olive branch that Republicans could look foolish in batting away,” Phillips says.
But she also says that stance on abortion could be a non-starter with Senate Republicans.
“It would be difficult to near-impossible to imagine 14 Senate Republicans voting to the highest court someone who opposes this most basic conservative principle,” Phillips writes. “And it’s likely that some Senate Democrats would balk at a guy who is pretty conservative on many other issues.”
The Washington Post isn’t the only outlet suggesting the governor as a possibility.
The Morning Consult also put forth Sandoval as a candidate for the nomination, saying the governor could be a legacy choice for Obama.
“He might consider a popular Republican from a swing state, one whose ideology would be acceptable to Democrats and whose stature would be impossible for Senate Republicans to ignore one who has won unanimous Senate confirmation to a judicial post in the past, and who is said to yearn for a return to the judiciary,” Reid Wilson writes.
Sen. Dean Heller also might have hinted at Sandoval as a possibility. Heller said in a statement released Wednesday:
The chances of approving a new nominee are slim, but Nevadans should have a voice in the process. That’s why I encourage the President to use this opportunity to put the will of the people ahead of advancing a liberal agenda on the nation’s highest court. But should he decide to nominate someone to the Supreme Court, who knows, maybe it’ll be a Nevadan.
A spokesman for Heller later told the Associated Press the senator believes the nomination should wait for the next president. The AP also acknowledged that Brian Sandoval is among the names political activists have discussed as a possibility, though an unlikely one.