Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a moderate Republican, took himself out of consideration for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday as Senate Republicans held firm to their vow not to act on any nominee by President Barack Obama for the job.
Asked if the White House was disappointed by Sandoval's decision, Obama spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at a briefing, "He's obviously entitled to make decisions about his own career."
Sandoval's name surfaced as a possible nominee on Wednesday but Senate Republicans quickly said they still would not act on any Obama nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the Feb. 13 death of long-serving conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. An Obama appointee could pivot the court to the left for the first time in decades.
Earlier on Thursday, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton expressed concern about the possibility of Sandoval being nominated, saying she wanted Obama to pick a "true progressive." In addition, some liberal activists expressed alarm over Obama picking a Republican.
Sandoval released a statement that did not offer a reason for his withdrawal from consideration.
"Earlier today, I notified the White House that I do not wish to be considered at this time for possible nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States," he said.
"The notion of being considered for a seat on the highest court in the land is beyond humbling and I am incredibly grateful to have been mentioned."
Obama will convene a meeting on Tuesday with the Republican and Democratic leaders of the U.S. Senate and its Judiciary Committee to discuss a Supreme Court nominee, the White House said on Thursday.
The White House has contacted every member of the judiciary panel, both Republicans and Democrats, to discuss efforts to replace Scalia, Earnest said at the briefing.
Sandoval, 52, a Mexican-American, was appointed a judge by Republican George W. Bush, Obama's predecessor, before being elected governor in 2010. As governor, Sandoval has taken a traditional Republican stance in support of gun rights but offered more moderate views on social issues, such as supporting abortion rights.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said 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 Nov. 8 presidential election. Republicans hope to win back the White House then.
© 2022 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.