White House considers Nevada Gov. Sandoval for Supreme Court

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Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval. Photo by Steve Marcus/Reuters

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is a former federal judge. Photo by Steve Marcus/Reuters

WASHINGTON — The White House is considering Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada as a possible nominee to the Supreme Court, two people familiar with the process said Wednesday.

The nomination of a Republican would be seen as an attempt by President Barack Obama to break the Senate GOP blockade of any of his choices. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said his 54-member GOP caucus is opposed to holding confirmation hearings or vote on Obama’s pick, insisting that the choice rests with the next president.

Sandoval, 52, is a former federal judge who supports abortion rights. He met with Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid on Monday in Washington while he was in town for a meeting of the National Governors Association.

The officials declined to be named because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Mari St. Martin, Sandoval’s communications director, said Wednesday that the governor hasn’t been contacted by the White House.

“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 U.S. Supreme Court,” she said.

At the governors’ meeting over the weekend, Sandoval said he was honored his name was mentioned as a potential successor for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, but had heard nothing to think the Democratic president is considering him.

Few GOP senators have shown any willingness to buck party leaders and consider an Obama nominee.

Before McConnell announced his party’s position, Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican, said Nevadans should have a voice in approving a selection — which his aides said meant the next president, not Obama, should fill the vacancy. Heller’s written statement concluded, “But should he decide to nominate someone to the Supreme Court, who knows, maybe it’ll be a Nevadan.”

Sandoval’s consideration was first reported by The Washington Post.

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