Obama weighs Republican Nevada governor for US Supreme Court

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican and former federal judge, is being considered by President Barack Obama for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court, a source close to the process said on Wednesday, as Obama sought to overcome Senate Republican resistance to any nominee.

RELATED: See more of Gov. Sandoval through the years:

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Governor Brian Sandoval
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Obama weighs Republican Nevada governor for US Supreme Court
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval appears at a news conference on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, in Las Vegas. Sandoval announced plans for Faraday Future, a Chinese-backed electric carmaker's $1 billion manufacturing plant to be built in North Las Vegas, Nev. (AP Photo/David Becker)
FILE - In this April 17, 2015, file photo, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval sits in his office at the Capitol in Carson City. Drought and what to do about it will be the focus of a three-day conference Sept. 21-23 hosted by Sandoval in Carson City. The governor's drought summit on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday will feature reports from workshops around the state about costs, effects and successes dealing with the record regional dry spell now in its 15th year.(AP Photo/Cathleen Allison, File)
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval shakes hands with attendees after a news conference. Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, in Las Vegas. Sandoval announced plans for Faraday Future, a Chinese-backed electric carmaker's $1 billion manufacturing plant to be built in North Las Vegas, Nev. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval participates in the opening session of the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks at a gathering where the formal announcement was made that the greater sage grouse does not need federal protections, at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, in Commerce City, Colo., Tuesday Sept. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, center, attends an event to sign SB 514 into law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Thursday, June 11, 2015, in Las Vegas. The bill authorizes $27 million for the UNLV School of Medicine. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signs SB 514 into law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Thursday, June 11, 2015, in Las Vegas. The bill authorizes $27 million for the UNLV School of Medicine. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signs SB 514 into law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Thursday, June 11, 2015, in Las Vegas. The bill authorizes $27 million for the UNLV School of Medicine. (AP Photo/John Locher)
FILE - In this Sept. 25, 2011, file photo Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks during a memorial service in Reno, Nev. Sandoval announced Tuesday, June 9, 2015 that he will not run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by longtime Democratic Sen. Harry Reid. (AP Photo/Kevin Clifford, File)
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval hugs his daughter, Maddy, before signing into law on Monday, June 8, 2015 a measure creating millions of dollars in incentives to combat the state's teacher shortage in Reno, Nev. The bill signing ceremony was in the library at Reno High School, where Maddy Sandoval is a senior. She plans to study education beginning this fall at the University of Nevada, Reno. (AP Photo/Scott Sonner)
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signs into law on Monday, June 8, 2015, a measure creating millions of dollars in incentives to combat the state's teacher shortage as his daughter, Maddy, watches in the library at Reno High School where she is a senior. (AP Photo/Scott Sonner)
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval talks with a reporter in Carson City, Nev., Tuesday, June 9, 2015. Sandoval, a Republican, announced Tuesday that he will not run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by longtime Democratic Sen. Harry Reid. (AP Photo/Michelle Rindels)
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks to students, teachers and others in the library at Reno High School after signing into law on Monday, June 8, 2015, a measure creating millions of dollars in incentives to combat the state's teacher shortage. (AP Photo/Scott Sonner)
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, center, holds a bill signing ceremony Wednesday, June 3, 2015, in Las Vegas. The ceremony was for Senate Bill 432, which allocates millions of dollars for for low performing schools in the 20 poorest zip codes in Nevada. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval greets students at Matt Kelly Elementary School during a bill signing ceremony Wednesday, June 3, 2015, in Las Vegas. The ceremony was for Senate Bill 432, which allocates millions of dollars for for low performing schools in the 20 poorest zip codes in Nevada. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, center, laughs as he looks a picture presented to him by students at Matt Kelly Elementary School during a bill signing ceremony Wednesday, June 3, 2015, in Las Vegas. The ceremony was for Senate Bill 432, which allocates millions of dollars for for low performing schools in the 20 poorest zip codes in Nevada. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, right, meets with a student at Matt Kelly Elementary School during a bill signing ceremony Wednesday, June 3, 2015, in Las Vegas. The ceremony was for Senate Bill 432, which allocates millions of dollars for for low performing schools in the 20 poorest zip codes in Nevada. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Surrounded by state lawmakers and the families of students who were victims of bullying, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signs an anti-bullying bill into law at Carson Middle School in Carson City, Nev., Wednesday, May 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison)
RENO, Nev. _ Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval addresses the crowd outside the Nevada Department of Wildlife headquarters in Reno on Tuesday, April 21, 2015, after U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced her reversal of proposed federal protection of the bistate sage grouse along the California-Nevada line. Jewell says withdrawal of a proposal to declare the bird unique to Nevada and California as threatened should be encouraging for those trying to head off a bigger listing decision looming for greater sage grouse in 11 western states. (AP Photo/Scott Sonner)
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval talks with a group of Carson City fifth-graders after signing into law an emergency bill extending bonds for school construction at a brief ceremony in Carson City, Nev., on Wednesday, March 4, 2015. More than a dozen lawmakers joined Sandoval for the signing of the bill which had bipartisan support in both houses. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison)
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee, speaks at the committee's morning session at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval was the guest speaker at the Grand Opening of Young Entrepreneurs Collective in Fallon, Nev., Thursday, March 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Lance Iversen)
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, center, takes a tour of the new office space for the Young Entrepreneurs Collective with Abbi Whitaker and Fallon mayor KenTedford in Fallon, Nev., Thursday, March 27, 2015.(AP Photo/Lance Iversen)
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval stands on the front steps of the historic Fallon Old Post Office built in 1929 after speaking at the Grand Opening of Young Entrepreneurs Collective in Fallon, Nev., Thursday, March 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Lance Iversen)
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., right, speaks with Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval during a groundbreaking ceremony for the Interstate 11 Boulder City bypass project Monday, April 6, 2015, in Boulder City, Nev. (AP Photo/John Locher)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 05: Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks during the Genting Group's ceremonial groundbreaking for Resorts World Las Vegas on May 5, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The USD 4 billion property on the Las Vegas Strip is expected to open in 2018 on the site of the former Stardust Resort & Casino. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 05: (L-R) Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval shakes hands with Chairman and CEO of the Genting Group K.T. Lim as Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak looks on during the Genting Group's ceremonial groundbreaking for Resorts World Las Vegas on May 5, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The USD 4 billion property on the Las Vegas Strip is expected to open in 2018 on the site of the former Stardust Resort & Casino. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)
Brian Sandoval, governor of Nevada, center, speaks to attendees during the Faraday Future Inc. event at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Monday, Jan. 4, 2016. CES is expected to bring a range of announcements from major names in tech showcasing new developments in virtual reality, self-driving cars, drones, wearables, and the Internet of Things. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Brian Sandoval, governor of Nevada, center, shakes hands with Elon Musk, co-founder and chief executive officer of Tesla Motors Inc., during a news conference at the Nevada State Capitol building in Carson City, Nevada, U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014. Tesla will build the worlds largest lithium-ion battery plant in Nevada, bringing a $100 billion boost to the states economy over two decades, Sandoval said. Photographer: David Calvert/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Brian Sandoval, governor of Nevada, speaks during a news conference at the Nevada State Capitol building in Carson City, Nevada, U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014. Tesla Motors Inc. will build the worlds largest lithium-ion battery plant in Nevada, bringing a $100 billion boost to the states economy over two decades, Sandoval said. Photographer: David Calvert/Bloomberg via Getty Images
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 28: Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks at the 2012 Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. (Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)
LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 30: Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval smiles during the National Clean Energy Summit 4.0 at the Aria Resort & Casino at CityCenter August 30, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Political and economic leaders are attending the summit to discuss a domestic policy agenda to advance alternative energy for the country's future. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 15: CEO of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas John Unwin and Governor of Nevada Brian Sandoval attend the opening of The Cosmopolitan Of Las Vegas on December 15, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 01: Attorney General of Nevada Brian Sandoval speaks during night three of the Republican National Convention September 1, 2004 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Gov. Brian Sandoval, a 1986 graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno, helps announce an $8 million grant from the E.L Wiegand Foundation to build a new four-story, 110,000-square foot recreation and fitness center on the campus near the Lawlor Events Center, Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Scott Sonner)
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval answers media questoins following a special Legislative session in Carson City, Nev., on Tuesday, June 4, 2013. Sandoval called the special session after lawmakers failed to get their work finished by the midnight duty. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison)
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval explains his decision to expand Medicaid eligibility during an interview in Carson City, Nev. with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2012. Sandoval said expanding coverage will add 78,000 residents to the state's Medicaid rolls, but save the state $16 million in mental health programs that otherwise would be paid for out of the state general fund. (AP Photo/Sandra Chereb)
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval addresses the media about the 400-acre Caughlin Fire burns in Reno, Nev. on Friday, Nov. 18, 2011. The governor declared a state of emergency. Winds over 70 mph are making it difficult to contain the fire. Officials say at least a dozen homes have burned and 9,500 have been evacuated. (AP Photo/Kevin Clifford)
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks during a memorial service for the victims of the Sept. 16, 2011, crash at the National Championship Air Races on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011, in Reno, Nev. (AP Photo/Kevin Clifford)
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval makes his inaugural address during Monday's inauguration ceremony, Jan. 3, 2011 at the Capitol in Carson City, Nev. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison)
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval waves to the crowd following Monday's inauguration ceremony, Jan. 3, 2011 at the Capitol in Carson City, Nev. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison)
FILE - In this Jan. 3, 2011 file photo, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval takes the oath of office from Chief Supreme Court Justice Michael Douglas at the Capitol in Carson City, Nev. First Lady Kathleen Sandoval is at right. On Monday, Jan. 24, the newly elected governor will unveil his blueprint on how the state, ravaged by record unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcies, will close a budget gap of $1 billion to $3 billion. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison, File)
Gov. Brian Sandoval salutes a pair of Nevada servicemen who were decorated for their actions in Afghanistan, while making his first State of the State address before a joint session of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City, Nev. Monday Jan. 24, 2011. Lt. Col Tony Millican, who is stationed at Nellis Air Force Base, received the Bronze Star and the Air Force's Lance P. Sijan Award for heroism. Spl. Ernesto Padilla, of the Nevada National Guard received the Purple Heart for wounds he suffered from a road side blast that tore his vehicle in half.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Gov. Brian Sandoval acknowledges the applause of lawmakers and guests after he entering the Nevada Assembly Chambers to deliver his first State of the State speech before a joint session of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City, Nev., Monday, Jan. 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Nevada Assembly members, from left, Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas and Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka meet with Gov. Brian Sandoval at the Capitol in Carson City, Nev. on Monday, Feb. 7, 2011 to tell him the Assembly is convened and ready for business. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison)
FILE - In this Jan. 24, 2011 file photo, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval makes his first State of the State address in Carson City, Nev. More than a year out from Election Day, all sorts of Republicans, Sandoval, are making a point of keeping themselves in the national spotlight, stoking speculation that they're positioning themselves as potential running mates for the eventual GOP presidential nominee. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
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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 of Sandoval, adding that "a number of people are being checked out" for the job.

An intense political fight has erupted since the Feb. 13 death of long-serving conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. 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. The Republican-dominated Senate must confirm any high court nominee.

Sandoval, 52, who is of Mexican heritage and was elected governor in 2010, was in Washington for a meeting of the National Governors' Association. He spent about 30 minutes with Reid in the Democratic leader's office. The two also had talked by telephone last week, the source said.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Tuesday that the Senate will not hold hearings or vote on any Supreme Court nominee until after the next president takes office in January.

Obama vowed on Wednesday to move ahead with a nominee and said Republicans would risk public ire if they blocked a qualified candidate for political motives, as well as diminishing the credibility of the high court.

RELATED: Possible Supreme Court picks below:

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Potential replacements for Justice Scalia, SCOTUS
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Obama weighs Republican Nevada governor for US Supreme Court

Sri Srinivasan, Federal appeals court judge

(United States Department of Justice)

Judge Merrick Garland, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson

(Photo via the United States District Court for the District of Columbia)

Loretta Lynch, the current U.S. Attorney General. 

(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Paul Watford, currently a U.S. circuit judge for the Ninth Circuit.

(Photo by Bill Clark/Getty Images)

Patricia Ann Millett, on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, pictured here with Obama when she was nominated to that court.

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota.

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

California Attorney General Kamala Harris

(AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

Jacquline Nguyen, the first Vietnamese American woman named to the state court in California.

(Photo by Ken Hively/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval withdrew his name after the Obama administration expressed interest in late February.

(AP Photo/Cathleen Allison, File)

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Obama said he expected the Senate Judiciary Committee to extend his nominee the courtesy of a hearing and then vote on whether he or she is qualified.

"In the meantime, the American people are going to have the ability to gauge whether the person I've nominated is well within the mainstream, is a good jurist, is somebody who's worthy to sit on the Supreme Court," Obama told reporters during a meeting in the Oval Office.

"I think it will be very difficult for Mr. McConnell to explain how, if the public concludes that this person's very well qualified, that the Senate should stand in the way simply for political reasons."

Watch more coverage below:

Obama Pledges SCOTUS Nomination in SCOTUSblog

OBAMA SYMPATHETIC

The president said he understood the political predicament Republicans faced and said he had expressed sympathy in calls to their leaders. He said they were sheepish in their arguments that a nominee should not be confirmed until next year and predicted their posture would change.

"I think the situation may evolve over time. I don't expect Mitch McConnell to say that is the case today," he said.

Obama, who was meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan, rarely takes questions from reporters in the Oval Office. But he was ready on Wednesday and seemed to relish striking down Republican arguments against his future nominee.

Earlier on Wednesday, in a post on the independent SCOTUSblog.com website, Obama listed his criteria for a nominee including "an independent mind, rigorous intellect, impeccable credentials and a record of excellence and integrity."

In an apparent nod to conservatives who decry "activist judges," Obama said his appointee "will be someone who recognizes the limits of the judiciary's role; who understands that a judge's job is to interpret the law, not make the law."

Liberals vowed to pressure Senate Republicans into considering an Obama nomination this year, with several groups banding together to deliver to the Senate boxes of what they said contained 1.3 million signatures from citizens demanding that a confirmation process go forward after the president announces his pick.

Senator Chuck Schumer, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate said the petitions being delivered were "just the beginning of the public rising up."

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut said Republicans "are giving a middle finger to the American people and they are giving a middle finger to this president. The American people elected Barack Obama for four years and they knew what they were doing."

The U.S. presidential election is set for Nov. 8 and Republicans want the next president to fill Scalia's vacancy, hoping a Republican will be elected.

Scalia's death left the shorthanded court with four liberals and four conservatives, with Obama's nominee positioned to change the court's ideological balance.

Obama already has appointed two Supreme Court justices during his seven years as president. The Senate confirmed his prior two nominees - Sonia Sotomayor in 2009 and Elena Kagan in 2010 - but the chamber was controlled by Obama's fellow Democrats at the time.

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