President Obama's Potential SCOTUS Nominee Is Stirring Controversy

February 24th 2016

Kyle Jaeger

The U.S. Supreme Court controversy just took an interesting turn. After several Republican senators vowed to block any SCOTUS nominee from President Barack Obama following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the White House is reportedly vetting a Republican governor — Brian Sandoval (R-Nevada) — for a possible seat on the bench, according to media reports.


This could shake things up on Capitol Hill, as Sandoval is considered a strong GOP centrist who might have enough bipartisan appeal to rouse support from Republican senators previously opposed to any Obama administration pick. But Obama's motives and the governor's voting record have already raised questions on both sides.

The political curveball has apparently caught some Republicans in Congress off guard, The Washington Post reports. While at least three GOP senators on the Judiciary Committee responsible for considering Supreme Court nominees say that Sandoval wouldn't affect their decision to delay the nomination process, others have expressed openness to the idea.

"This is one reason why I have not wanted to shut the door on considering a nominee," Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) told The Post. "We may well be sent a nominee who is deserving of thorough vetting and consideration."

But there's another issue with the prospective SCOTUS pick — namely, his voting record on social issues. Sandoval has opposed gay marriage (though he supports civil unions) and he previously called Obamacare "unconstitutional." Despite his overall bipartisan record, it's clear that the governor is far from the ideal choice for progressives who hoped to replace Scalia, a self-proclaimed originalist, with a liberal justice.

That said, the Sandoval development has piqued the interest of some Democratic senators, including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), who has a longstanding relationship with the governor.


"Some Democrats believe that nominating Sandoval could fracture the front of Republican opposition and force McConnell to take up the nomination in this contentious election year," The Post reports. "It would also put on the spot a handful of Senate Republicans who are up for reelection in blue states in November."

Obama has emphasized his commitment to fulfilling his constitutional duties by putting forth Supreme Court nominees no matter what Congress plans, he wrote a SCOTUS blog post on Wednesday:

"Needless to say, this isn’t something I take lightly. It’s a decision to which I devote considerable time, deep reflection, careful deliberation, and serious consultation with legal experts, members of both political parties, and people across the political spectrum."

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