Thursday, February 25, 2016

President Obama Considering Republican Governor to Replace Justice Scalia

The Washington Post published an article yesterday on an unconventional candidate for the Supreme Court being considered by President Barack Obama:
The White House is considering picking the Republican governor from Nevada to fill the current vacancy on the Supreme Court, scrambling political calculations in what is expected to be a contentious confirmation battle in which Senate Republicans have pledged to play the role of roadblock.
President Obama is weighing the selection of Brian Sandoval, a centrist former federal
Governor Brian Sandoval (D-NV)
judge who has served as governor since 2011, according to two people familiar with the process. Though the review process is in its initial phases and it is unclear whether the governor could ultimately emerge as the president’s pick, even the prospect of his nomination poses a difficult dilemma for Senate Republicans who have promised not to consider any nomination before November’s elections.
While the selection of Sandoval might garner Republican support in the Senate, Senate Majority Leader continued to reiterate his position that there will be no action on an Obama appointment and that the decision on the replacement of conservative stalwart Antonin Scalia will be left to the person elected President this November.
The article notes that Governor Sandoval holds mixed policy positions that could entice some Republicans and Democrats into supporting him:
Nominating Sandoval would carry clear political risks for Obama. Sandoval is aligned with Democrats on some key issues, including abortion rights and the environment. As governor, he has moved to implement the Affordable Care Act, and has said he considers same-sex marriage to be a settled issue.
But Sandoval is not seen as labor-friendly — potentially alienating a swath of the Democratic base. His legal credentials are also lacking compared to some of the other names under consideration who are mainly sitting federal judges. And he initially called the landmark health-care law “unconstitutional,” signing onto a brief in 2012 challenging the constitutionality of the measure’s individual mandate. The Supreme Court ultimately rejected that argument, and upheld the law.
One thing that might entice Republican Senators to act is the progression of the 2016 presidential election.  If Donald Trump is the likely GOP nominee, many Senate Republicans will consider it no guarantee considering the New York businessman's liberal political resume that Trump will pick a conservative or even a Republican for the Court.  They may well decide to opt for Sandoval over an unknown Trump appointee.  Further, if Hillary Clinton is seen as the likely general election winner, and someone who might carry the Senate into Democratic hands, the Republican-controlled Senate might decide to confirm Sandoval knowing they won't do any better with a Clinton President.

It's probably a moot point.  Undoubtedly President Obama will get such blowback from his liberal base that the appointment of Sandoval will never happen.

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