Brian Sandoval’s office says it’s the first he’s heard of it, but sources “close to the Nevada governor’s office” are saying that the Obama administration has begun the Supreme Court vetting process for the Republican moderate and former federal district judge.
Supposedly, Harry Reid has been running interference for Obama as the plan comes together – a plan that makes very little sense when you consider Obama and Reid would be selling out their liberal constituents for ease of process and, ostensibly, to protect a Republican Senate. But apparently, the process continues unabated and looks, at least for now, promising.
Brian Sandoval, the centrist Republican governor of Nevada, is being vetted by the White House for a possible nomination to the Supreme Court, according to two people familiar with the process.
Sandoval is increasingly viewed by some key Democrats as perhaps the only nominee President Obama could select who would be able to break a Republican blockade in the Senate…Sandoval met Monday with Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid, a fellow Nevadan with whom he enjoys cordial relations.
A person familiar with the conversation said that while Sandoval told Reid he had not made a final decision on whether he would accept a Supreme Court nomination, he would allow the vetting process to move forward. Another person in Nevada familiar with the process confirmed that the process is underway.
It’s not that Sandoval is a bad guy. He’s been mentioned routinely as a good Republican choice to replace Harry Reid, and his name has been tossed around for vice president a few times. But he’s not exactly the scintillating legal mind that Barack Obama claims he wants on the court. He’s been an assemblyman in Nevada, an attorney there – even attorney general – but he’s always been tagged as being destined for higher political office and not necessarily higher judicial office. He’s also not reliably conservative or liberal. He’s pro-choice, but anti-partial birth abortion. He’s pro-labor, pro-Obamacare and pro-Medicaid, but pro-Hyde Amendment. He reportedly likes Justice Sandra Day O’Conner as a model for judicial excellence, which means he likes to go where the wind takes him on everything from constitutional law to his lunch order.
There are obvious benefits to putting a moderate Republican forth. It would be the best conservatives could do, probably, with the prospect of President Donald Trump breathing down their necks, or worse, President Hillary Clinton or President Bernie Sanders. It also helps the administration demonstrate their willingness to cooperate, however fake the willingness is, which would give a boost to people like Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who want to push Sen. Mitch McConnell to open the confirmation process, rather than deny the president his SCOTUS pick. It’s a good opportunity to troll: after all, how could Republicans in the Senate possibly refuse to confirm a member of their own party?
But if you’re going to attempt to push through a nominee, why not push through the one people want? Democrats aren’t going to look at an opportunity to flip the court and then listen to someone tell them they need to risk a long-term swing vote, rather than shoot for the moon. He’s OK on some of their issues, but depending on who mentors him once on the court, he could easily develop antagonistic tendencies; middle-of-the-road justices often don’t stay middle-of-the-road. And if Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders is the potential nominee, why waste the opportunity on a Republican when the odds are in your favor for a more solid pick? Obstructionism might cost the GOP the Senate, which would pave the way for either of those Democrats to nominate the Westminster Kennel Club dog show judges if they so choose. Or worse, Barack Obama.
This seems like a weird gamble. But it also might just be a red herring, designed to play on Republican fears – after all, President Trump is looking likely, and any Republican would be better than whomever he’d nominate, probably. Scared enough and you’ll go along with the Plan A.