Nevada Republican Governor Brian Sandoval has already been rejected as a possible Supreme Court nominee — by his fellow Republicans. According to sources who spoke to the Washington Post on Wednesday, President Barack Obama has begun the process of “vetting” the 52-year-old, who has also served as United States District Court judge as well as Nevada attorney general.
But as soon as information leaked to the press that Sandoval was under possible consideration for the U.S. Supreme Court post left vacant by the death on February 13 of Antonin Scalia at age 79, Republicans in the Senate immediately went on record to declare Sandoval a non-starter — even though his appointment as a U.S. District Court judge sailed through the senate unanimously in 2005.
Sandoval was elected governor of Nevada in 2010. The below video is an excerpt of a speech given by Sandoval at the 2012 Republican National Convention.
The possible pick of Brian Sandoval, a Republican, was puzzling to supporters of Obama even before he was ruled out by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has previously said that the Senate would refuse to hold confirmation hearings on any Obama nominee. McConnell said through a spokesperson that he “didn’t say the Senate would act ‘if’ it was a certain type of nominee.”
Sandoval, the first Latino to hold statewide office in Nevada, is generally looked upon as a “moderate” within the Republican party, but nonetheless holds positions that would be anathema to most Democrats.
According to a report compiled by the liberal Think Progress political site, Sandoval has argued that the Affordable Care Act, the “Obamacare” heath care reform law, is “unconstitutional” and that the Supreme court should “hold the ACA invalid in its entirety.”
Nonetheless, Sandoval implemented many provisions of the ACA in Nevada, including the expansion of the state’s Medicaid program that was resisted by most Republican governors.
On labor issues, Sandoval signed a law that allowed schools to pay less than prevaliing wages to construction workers, and proposed a reform of the state’s collective bargaining process that Nevada union leaders blasted as “labor Armageddon.”
But Sandoval ended up signing labor legislation that was agreed to as “reasonable” by unions. And though he opposed Obama’s policy to save about 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, he refused to join other Republican governors in a lawsuit to overturn those policies.
Regardless, Senate Republicans said Wednesday that they would refuse to even consider a Sandoval nomination by Obama.
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The Senate’s Number Two Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, said that his position on refusing to consider any Obama Supreme Court nominee stayed the same no matter who that nominee turned out to be, while Nebraska GOP first-term Senator Deb Fischer told CNN, “It’s not about the person.”
Cornyn says doesn’t make a difference if Sandoval is the nominee. Position stays the same
— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) February 24, 2016
The hard-line position against any Obama nominee, even a Republican such as Brian Sandoval, is seen by political experts as carrying significant risks for Republicans in the Senate.
According to a report in the New York Times last week, five Republican Senate seats are seen as vulnerable in the November election — senators in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, and Illinois. All are “purple” states with strong support for both Democratic and Republican candidates. Obama won all five of those states in the 2012 presidential election against Republican Mitt Romney.
Recent polling data in two of those states, Pennsylvania and Ohio, shows overwhelming opposition to the hard-line Republican stance against even holding hearings regarding any Obama Supreme Court nominee. If that data holds for the other states where Republican senators are seen as vulnerable, the issue of the Supreme Court nominating process could push those states into the Democratic category — and that would allow Democrats to regain control of the Senate with a 51-49 majority, counting two independents who caucus with Democrats.
In other words, political experts say, the Republican blanket rejection of anyone nominated to the Supreme Court by Obama, even a Republican such as Brian Sandoval, could leave Republicans in 2017 facing a Democratic president with a Democratic Senate likely to confirm any nominee that president puts forth.
[Featured Photo By David Becker / Getty Images]