According to multiple reports, President Barack Obama was considering nominating Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval (R-NV) to take recently deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Sandoval is a centrist Republican and a former federal judge who is pro-choice and has said that the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality is “settled law.”
On Thursday, Sandoval took himself out of the running.
The Sandoval trial balloon highlights the upside and challenges for Obama of picking a more centrist or consensus candidate.
Such a pick would likely put both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate in a tough spot.
When Sandoval's name was floated, the top Democrat in the Senate, Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), signaled that he would welcome and support a Sandoval nomination. Others on the left, however, were not as quick to embrace it.
While Governor Sandoval agrees with progressives on several issues, including abortion rights and the environment, he is not considered friendly to organized labor - a key part of the Democratic coalition. He also once signed on to a brief in 2012 calling the individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act “unconstitutional.”
Some Democrats, however, believed a Sandoval nomination, or one like him, is the best opportunity to force Senate Republicans’ hand in an election year, believing that Senate Republicans in tough re-elects would join Democrats in calling for hearings and a confirmation vote.
Several Republican members of the Judiciary Committee said this week that it wouldn’t matter whether Obama picked Sandoval or any other Republican, they still opposed moving forward on any nomination.
It is not known how many potential Supreme Court nominees are currently under consideration by the White House.