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Dhaka Tribune

Obama considers Republican Nevada governor for Supreme Court seat

Update : 25 Feb 2016, 06:57 PM

President Barack Obama is considering appointing a moderate Republican to the US Supreme Court, a source close to the process said on Wednesday, but leaders in the Republican-led Senate held firm to their threat to block anyone he nominates.

The source said Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican and former federal judge, was among the possible candidates.

As governor, Sandoval has taken a traditional Republican stance in support of gun rights, but his more moderate views on social issues, such as abortion rights, could make him an attractive choice for the Democratic president.

A 52-year-old Mexican-American, Sandoval was appointed a judge by Republican George W Bush, Obama’s predecessor, before being elected governor in 2010.

The February 13 death of long-serving conservative Justice Antonin Scalia created a vacancy on the nine-seat court and ignited a political fight. Republicans are maneuvering to foil Obama’s ability to choose a replacement who could tilt the court to the left for the first time in decades. Scalia’s death left the court with four liberals and four conservatives.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Tuesday the Senate will not hold hearings or vote on any Supreme Court nominee until the next president takes office in January 2017, following the November 8 presidential election. Republicans hope to win back the White House then.

The Senate must confirm any apex court nominee, but McConnell remained unswayed even with word that Obama was considering the Republican Sandoval for the job.

White House officials are seeking a candidate they think lawmakers from both parties could support, but Obama may be unlikely to choose any Republican, even a centrist.

Sandoval opposed Obama’s healthcare law, but opted to expand his state’s Medicaid health insurance programme for the poor under the measure, breaking from a number of Republican governors who refused to do so.

He expressed support for bipartisan immigration legislation that passed the Senate in 2013 before dying in the House of Representatives amid Republican opposition. In 2013, Sandoval vetoed legislation to require background checks on all Nevada gun sales. Last year, he signed a law backed by the National Rifle Association that expanded the defences for justifiable homicide and repealed a local ordinance that required handgun registration. Liberals vowed to pressure Senate Republicans into considering Obama’s nominee, with several groups delivering to the Senate boxes of what they said contained 1.3m signatures from citizens demanding that a confirmation process go forward after the president announces his pick. 

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