President Obama is obviously yanking the GOP's chain with this trial balloon about his SCOTUS pick being Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada.
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican and a former federal judge, is being considered by President Barack Obama for a possible appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court replacing the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a source close to the process said on Wednesday.
The source, who asked not to be identified, said Sandoval met on Monday in the U.S. Capitol with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, at which time Reid asked the governor whether he would be interested in being considered for the high court job.
"He said he was interested," the source said, adding that "a number of people are being checked out" for the job.
Sandoval is certainly qualified, but so was Scalia from a technical standpoint. Sandoval is clearly not going to be named because he's a Republican, and as Governor of Nevada he has fundamental differences from the President.
The fact that Obama would consider naming Sandoval is surprising, given the governor’s past statements on the Affordable Care Act. In his first State of the State Address in 2011, Sandoval said that “many aspects of the law are unconstitutional” and he pledged to “continue to fight to have them overturned.” He later personally signed briefs filed in the Supreme Court arguing against the law’s constitutionality and claiming that the Supreme Court “should hold the ACA invalid in its entirety.”
It’s worth noting that, after losing this case, Sandoval did agree to implement provisions of the law, such as its Medicaid expansion. Nevertheless, if Sandoval’s position had prevailed in the Supreme Court, Obamacare would have completely ceased to exist.
Sandoval’s record also creates a fair amount of uncertainty regarding how he would rule on several landmark issues currently before the Supreme Court, including whether to defund public sector unions, and the fate of President Obama’s plans to fight climate change and temporarily permit undocumented immigrants to remain in the country.
The bottom line is that this is all a gigantic, obvious trap for the Republicans currently in the Senate.
They fell for it anyway.
However, if Obama's intent in floating Sandoval's name was to box Republicans in to looking even more unreasonable than they already have, then it seems his ploy is already working. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellinstantly said his boss won't consider Sandoval, explaining, "The Leader didn't say the Senate would act 'if' it was a certain type of nominee." Presumably, that means McConnell wouldn't take action even if Obama nominated the ghost of William Rehnquist.
Sen. John Cornyn, the second highest-ranking Republican in the Senate, likewise immediately told Politico that his position on not allowing a nomination to proceed was unchanged. And anti-tax radical Grover Norquist opined, "Obama might nominate the guy who taxed Burning Man. Ugh." Not Burning Man! (Norquist did notoriously attend the counter-cultural desert festival a couple of years ago.) Freshman Sen. Deb Fischer may have summed it up best, though, when she declared, "It's not about the person."
So we have multiple Republican senators now, on record, saying that there is no nominee whatsoever that would be acceptable under any reason, because the nation's first black President no longer has the Constitutional right to name a successor to Scala.
Not even a Republican is acceptable.
Please proceed, GOP Senate.