Reports have US President Barack Obama considering a surprising pick to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court after his sudden death — Brian Sandoval, the centrist Republican governor of Nevada.
Sources familiar with the process told The Washington Post and Reuters that Sandoval met with Senate minority leader Harry Reid, a Democratic senator from Nevada, Monday on Capitol Hill.
Reid reportedly asked Sandoval whether he’d be interested in the job.
“He said he was interested,” the source told Reuters.
Faiz Shakir, an adviser to Reid, told Business Insider by email that the Senator would approve if Obama chose Sandoval to replace Scalia.
“Senator Reid thinks very highly of Governor Sandoval and would be supportive if he was President Obama’s choice,” Shakir said.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest declined to comment on the speculation surrounding Sandoval in Wednesday’s press briefing, but sources close to the process told the Post that Sandoval is being vetted for the nomination.
Sandoval’s camp denied the reports in an email to Business Insider.
“Neither Gov. Sandoval nor his staff has been contacted by or talked to the Obama Administration regarding any potential vetting for the vacancy on the US Supreme Court,” Mari St. Martin, Sandoval’s communications director, wrote.
It’s not clear how many potential nominees are currently being vetted by the administration. In a Wednesday posting onSCOTUSblog, Obama listed three characteristics he wants from a nominee: that the person is “eminently” qualified, that they respect the limits of the Supreme Court, and that they have life experience “outside the classroom and the courtroom.”
Nominating a Republican to the court could be the only way for Obama to break Senate Republicans’ resolve to not even hold a hearing for his eventual nominee, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky senator, pledged on Tuesday.
Sandoval has a bipartisan record, per the Post. He holds relatively liberal stances on abortion rights and the environment, and as Governor he accepted Medicaid expansion as a part of Obamacare — something many GOP governors have refused to do.
“It would be a privilege,” Sandoval told The Morning Consult about a potential nomination to the high court on Saturday.
He added that the Supreme Court is “the essence of justice in this country.”
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