Waving off Republican senators who say they won’t consider any Supreme Court nominee, President Obama is forging ahead with vetting candidates to nominate as the next justice, replacing Antonin Scalia. Some of the names widely suspected to be on the list are liberals: Judges Sri Srinivasan, Patricia Millett, and Merrick Garland of the D.C. Circuit Court, and Judge Paul Watford of the Ninth Circuit, for example. There are a few more out-of-the-box picks, too, being bandied about, from Attorney General Loretta Lynch to Senator Amy Klobuchar. And on Wednesday, The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reported that Brian Sandoval, the moderate Republican governor of Nevada, is being vetted. Does that mean he’s in serious consideration? Of course not. But what if he is? What would a Sandoval pick look like? Matt Ford and David Graham try to talk it through the way they like best: argument.
Matt Ford: First off, as a full disclosure, I’m a Nevadan with the same alma mater as Sandoval. I admit having a fellow Nevadan on the Supreme Court would be thrilling in its own ways, but I think this would be a strong choice for other reasons. First, he puts pressure on GOP senators to actually respond to the nomination. A liberal-leaning judge from a federal appeals court is easy to dismiss; a popular Republican governor isn’t. Second, Sandoval is relatively moderate. He’s pro-choice enough that it’d be hard to see him overturn Roe v. Wade and he almost certainly wouldn’t pose a threat to Obergefell v. Hodges or other gay-rights decisions. He wouldn’t be a William Brennan or Sonia Sotomayor, of course, and many liberals wouldn’t be happy with Obama for that. But replacing Scalia with Sandoval would still move the Court significantly closer to the center.