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Sandoval for Supreme?

Uploaded: Feb 24, 2016

Fascinating news out of the capitol, one day after the GOP-led Judiciary Committee and full Senate gleefully and expectedly renounced any intention to fulfill their Constitutional mandate. They will shun anyone that the President, following HIS Constitutional duty, nominates to the vacant seat on the Supreme Court. If nominated they will not consider the jurist; if that individual even so much as stops by for a chat, they will be out-of-town.

Now, both sides in this sludge-fest have trotted-out videos of the other side either seeking or blocking other nominations: so it’s death-match politics-as-usual, ho-hum. The questions of whether that’s good governance, or good for the public interest, or even the subtler possible distinction between a straight legislative vote and “advice and consent” have been ground by the combatants into the dust.

Enter Brian Sandoval.

He is the popular, termed-out Republican governor of Nevada, and a former state Attorney General and Federal District Court (trial) judge. Word leaked/was leaked Wednesday that he is being ‘vetted’ by the White House as a possible nominee. That could change Everything about the nomination process. Or it might just be a red herring, which is deliciously in-season this time of year.

As surmised in last week’s epistle, the GOP’s best, limited leverage in this situation would be to seek a more judicially centrist nominee for the position than the Prez might otherwise be inclined to choose. Mr. Obama may be taking the play to the Senate by choosing our neighbor to the east. Would the solons accept this gift of moderation, or continue their futile campaign to de-legitimize a re-elected President? We may get to find out.

So what do we know of Mr. Sandoval? He is of Hispanic heritage, born in northern California and raised in Reno. He got his law degree from Ohio State, for which he might be forgiven, because it’s not Ivy, nor Michigan. In his governing, he has been a gun-positive fiscal conservative, but also something of a social liberal as to issues like abortion, Obamacare and the same-sex marriage.

Of his judicial temperament and tendencies, less is known. Trial court judges deal with many issues in guiding their proceedings, often distinct from those argued on appeal. They are also tighter-bound by precedent than their appellate counterparts. As a former AG, we might predict that he’d be tough on crime, but it’s more likely true that his ongoing familiarity with those issues has led him to private conclusions that he can’t really use in that prosecutorial role.

Let’s not forget another former prosecutor, and Governor, who was appointed to the Supreme Court by Mr. Eisenhower: California’s own Earl Warren. The President thought he was getting a centrist, and wound-up with a quite liberal jurist who provoked all those ancient road signs calling for his removal, sponsored by the John Birch Society (and underwritten by the current Koch brothers’ daddy). Many of the issues on which he led landmark majorities expanded rights of criminal defendants.

Other judges have also surprised observers by straying from the anticipated path. I’m not certain this is always true, but several relatively recent appointees have “migrated,” usually trending more liberal than was thought likely (Cf. Justices Stevens, Souter and Kennedy on some social issues). Ike later called Warren’s appointment “the biggest dam’ fool mistake of his Administration,” so it’s always a bit of a crapshoot.

There are other, more reliably liberal judges who might be considered (several of them recently confirmed for the ‘Triple A’ federal circuit courts of appeals – a few unanimously, despite their lefty philosophical leanings). Their nomination would put the GOP senators in the awkward position of having to explain why their reputations had deteriorated so badly in such a short time. But, as should be evident by now, the Senate has a high tolerance for – a near immunity to -- that kind of embarrassment.

So, why gamble on the relatively unknown, wild-card Governor Sandoval? Let’s assume he’s confirmed. The Prez and his Party get to make the Senators look silly for their premature repudiation of ANYone Mr. Obama might propose, and for their fleeting insistence that the Next administration make the appointment. He also gets a youngish (52), reasonably likely ally – certainly much more liberal-minded than his predecessor, Mr. Scalia. AND, by appointing the Court’s first Hispanic of Mexican ancestry, he solidifies that voting bloc for the Dems in the fall elections. Not a bad triple play.

It’s also, of course, how the system is supposed to work from a governance standpoint – the Senate majority being contra to the Exec, a middle-ground choice really ought to ensue. But who’s keeping THAT score?

And what happens if Governor Sandoval is nominated and the GOPers stand firm against Any consideration of his appointment? The Latino bloc (considered ‘crucial’ by the GOP in its 2013 post-mortem on the last Presidential election) is possibly driven even further into the Dem column as a result of this, most recent GOP affront, as are good-government moderates. The issue remains alive and furiously animates higher November turnout – perhaps by partisans of Both sides, but Republicans vote anyway, and Dems are more numerous. Meanwhile, the Court trundles along in deadlock on many important cases – but here the crucial difference is that “not to decide is to decide” – the Appeals Court rulings then stand. And those Appeals Courts are now populated with Obama appointees.

It’s hard to see how the President loses, either way.

I’m guessing that Mr. Obama is enjoying these waning months of his administration, and being handed this opportunity by The Fates must be delicious. The Sandoval possibility may become a full course on the menu, or just a tantalizing appetizer. Either way, can Mr. Obama really be faulted for savoring the moment – or even playing just a bit with his food?
What is it worth to you?


Posted by rosalindr, a resident of San Ramon,
on Feb 25, 2016 at 12:38 am

rosalindr is a registered user.

The Republican stand is predicated on Obama's successor being a Republican. But if it is Hilary or Bernie, either one would appoint a much more liberal Justice then Obama. Even if a Republican wins, it could be (Heaven Help Us) Donald Trump, and everyone knows The Donald is not a true conservative. Republicans should stop grandstanding and accept the best they can get.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Feb 25, 2016 at 11:51 am

If the governor is elected it would be wonderful! I doesn't matter that he is a Republican.

For Hispanics/Latinos it would be a great honor and cause for celebration. He does not despise Latinos and neither has he made hateful comments about an entire group of people who are non-white.

I am not familiar with his judicial qualifications. If he is nominated, then the details of his qualification will be known. Good Luck Governor!

There is a Basque song that is sung when a newcomer arrives. When it is sung,
everybody stands: Agur Jaunak - Web Link


Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Feb 25, 2016 at 1:18 pm

Doug Miller is a registered user.

Moot point Mr. Cushing. As soon as Sandoval found out he was being considered, he rejected the idea. But it is refreshing to see Mr. Cushing admit this is just a game or entertainment for the president. My prediction: the next president will fill this vacancy. Clinton and Sanders will be as happy as the Republican candidates about this. Let the voters decide.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Feb 25, 2016 at 1:48 pm

Well hello again, Doug. Nice to have regular readers. And yeah, I'm glad I wrote it last night, because this nomination notion had a brief half-life. Steve Inskeep on NPR's Morning Edition today thought it was entertaining, as well: Web Link

And not to get too far down into the sludge with you, but according to the Founders, the voters did decide -- twice.

Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Feb 25, 2016 at 4:31 pm

Doug Miller is a registered user.

Which point was 'sludge' Mr. Cushing? That Sandoval had rejected the idea of being nominated by this president? That Clinton (Clinton having said as much already), Sanders and all Republican candidates would rather be the one to fill the vacancy? Or is it 'sludge' to repeat Mr. Cushing's comments about how the president is finding this entertaining?

And after saying that Mr. Cushing does not want to get in the sludge, then of course he does!

Over the past 24 years Democrats have threatened to do exactly the same: block SCOTUS nominations in the last year or even 18 months of a Republican president's term. Look for statements by Biden, Clinton, Kerry, Shumer and Obama (who now regrets doing so). No doubt this too is 'sludge'. Seems more like hypocrisy.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of another community,
on Feb 25, 2016 at 5:00 pm

RTFA: "Now, both sides in this SLUDGE-fest have trotted-out videos of the other side either seeking or blocking other nominations: so it’s death-match politics-as-usual, ho-hum."

Ho-hum, indeed.

Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Feb 25, 2016 at 5:48 pm

Doug Miller is a registered user.

Such a weak response. The "everyone is doing it" defense is what he says when he has no response.

So Mr. Cushing, where was the sludge?

Posted by SHale99, a resident of another community,
on Feb 25, 2016 at 7:02 pm

SHale99 is a registered user.

"Let the voters decide"

Actually, the voters expect congress to do the job they were elected to. Prez nominates, congress does their thing. Does not matter one iota which year of the President's term he's in.
And if you AREN'T going to do your job you shouldn't publicly state you won't be. the GOP just can't get out of their own way.....

Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Feb 26, 2016 at 4:53 am

Doug Miller is a registered user.

SHale forgot to add the following to his post:

*This only applies when a Democrat is in the White House and Republicans control the legislative branch.

Posted by SHale, a resident of San Ramon,
on Feb 26, 2016 at 8:28 am

Mister Miller: I forgot nothing. Please don't make assumptions. I believe I said 'congress' and at the moment GOP is in "charge". If the Dems were in control my opinion would be no different. Bottom line voters want congress to do their jobs. At least voters who give a darn.

Posted by Sue Thayer, a resident of Birdland,
on Feb 26, 2016 at 8:42 am

"Sludge" fest is too kind: Web Link

Posted by Sal, a resident of Downtown,
on Feb 26, 2016 at 8:56 am


Gee, I seem to forget the line in the constitution which states "the president shall not nominate a Supreme Court justice during an election year." Maybe that is because it doesn't exist. Nevermind that your Saint Reagan nominated a justice his last year in office because human history doesn't go back further than 2008 with conservatives. I guess that gets lost in typical right-wing hypocrisy.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Feb 26, 2016 at 9:53 am know it's wrong to show stuff like that...I just bust a gut...where on earth did you find that video?

funny funny funny...I've always loved GORILLAS! HOORAY!

Posted by Sue Thayer, a resident of Birdland,
on Feb 26, 2016 at 10:41 am

cholo: it's just a googlesearch away.

I don't think it's so bad, though: at least the gorilla knows what he's throwing when he flings it, and then has the good sense to take cover!

Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Feb 26, 2016 at 2:02 pm

Doug Miller is a registered user.

There now seems to be two definitions of sludge at play here. There is the dictionary definition as referenced by Sue. The other definition, as created by Mr. Cushing, is any comment he disagrees with, regardless of the merits.

As to history, Sal is the one who needs a lesson. Reagan did not nominate someone in his last year in office. The process to fill a vacancy began when Louis Powell retired in June 1987, more than a year and a half before the end of his second term. On July 1, 1987 Reagan nominated Robert Bork. The senate rejected the nomination in late October. On November 11th Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy who was confirmed in February 1988.

But the current hard line began in 1992 and was renewed in 2006 when Democrats made numerous statements that they would refuse to consider any last year nominations by Bush 41 and Bush 43. Notable in that group were Biden, Schumer, Kerry, Clinton and Obama. To be fair, Obama has recently and coincidently expressed regret for his part.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Feb 26, 2016 at 4:30 pm

As recall, Hispanics/Latinos/Mexican Americans were at one time referred to with the derogatory expressuib "chicken choker". I've heard from a few buds that it was later shortened to "choker".

I have a hunch that Trump was making a racist comment to Rubio as a "chicken choker" in the most recent Republican debate last night.

Trump has even attempted to mislead the public into believing that Rubio is in the USA "illegally". Much the same as his charge that Cruz is not an American citizen.

What a tragic situation for the Republican party...Trump is increasingly coming across as deranged.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Feb 26, 2016 at 4:53 pm

No Doug, I won't be goaded into this game -- because I already know it just ends with both sides demonstrating that the other one will try to play politics with late term nominations. Ho-hum. Of course, this IS the only time I can recall the Senate actually refusing to even meet to reject the nominee, but the point, WHICH I MADE AMPLY in the quoted section above, is that it's both a mud fight and a slug fest -- hence 'sludge fest' -- inconclusive, and not very interesting nor worthy of further development.

I'm generally no fan of false equivalences. Here, though, neither side has done itself much credit over the years, and neither is in a position to claim any high ground against a charge of hypocrisy. Ho-hum.

I do think it would be fun to consider whether an advice-and-consent vote is different from a normal partisan one, and what factors ought to be considered in appointing a Justice, but those issues may be as practically relevant as Mr. Sandoval's non-starter.

Posted by Peter Kluget, a resident of Danville,
on Feb 26, 2016 at 4:57 pm

Mr. Miller, you'll have to help me with my history here: please identify the occasions where there was an opening on the Supreme Court in the last year of a Republican President's term of office and Democrats refused to hold hearings over the nominee's qualifications? 1992? 2006? Because I can't find any record of that happening.

I have found what looked like chest beating (a known precursor to the kind of "sludge fest" Ms. Thayer noted) which appears to have been designed to dissuade a Supreme Court Justice from choosing to retire early to afford "his" president an opportunity for an extra pick - a very different kettle of fish from a refusal to allow a sitting president to fill a naturally-occurring vacancy.

But surely you have some historical references to back up your claims?

Oh, and about Sandoval? he didn't "immediately" reject the idea of being nominated. Web Link He only backed out after the Republican leadership made it clear that sticking it to the President was a higher priority than seeing that a qualified candidate fill the seat.

But of course: "It's Obama's fault."

Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Feb 26, 2016 at 6:30 pm

Doug Miller is a registered user.

Mr. Kluget misread my post. The only statement I made was that beginning in 1992, Democrat senators began to threaten that they would not consider Supreme Court nominations in the final year of a Republican president's term. This isn't a claim. It has been widely reported recently. The fact that Obama now regrets his participation shows how serious they were at the time.

As to Sandoval, it was clear from the beginning that he would not get a lot of votes from Democrats either. They wanted someone who would be more reliably progressive.

As Mr. Cushing states, this is a form of entertainment for the president. That's all this is.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Feb 27, 2016 at 9:26 am

FYI: During the last Republican debate, Trump used the derogatory term "choker" to refer to Rubio.

There is a history of referring to Mexicans/Chicanos as "taco chokers" in the US.

Trump is old enough to know the expression. He is so full of hate and racism.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Feb 27, 2016 at 10:04 am

Hey Cholo: while I have never heard the term, ahem, 'chicken choker' used in an ethnic context, I will gladly cede the derogatory terms championship to Mr. Trump. The man's bleeping encyclopedic.

However, what do you make of the Breitbart report that Citizen Trump garnered fully 44% of the Hispanic vote in the recent NV GOP shindig? Web Link I did do some math, and since we Are dealing with a suspiciously hostile voting environment, it might just mean '4 out of 9' total Latino Republicans in the state. But what's your take?

Also, are Latino and Hispanic basically interchangeable terms in your view? And would either include Basques? Thanks!

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Feb 27, 2016 at 12:09 pm

The sample is small so the numbers don't mean much. Trump loves to brag so he will manipulate the numbers to soothe his ego. In a General Election, he will not reach such a high number as the sample of D-voters of L-descent increases.

Should Trump win the R-nomination, he will have to face up to the hostile/racist climate that he has created toward Mexican Americans nationwide. That will pose a major threat to his candidacy.

Trump creates a hostile environment wherever he person, on TV, in newspapers, and online. He's unable to contain the rage that seems to have nothing to do with much of anything outside of himself. In my opinion, Trump is responding to internal stimuli and his continuous angry presence is diagnostic. It's his inflexible personality that overwhelms himself and others. His defenses are easily identified and can be used against him and will be used against him in a general election.

Thus far, Rubio is the only candidate that attacks his defenses. Laughing at Trump is experienced by Trump as wounding. He can run but he can't hide and Rubio knows it. So, he will continue use buzz words that trample Trump's ego and lead to his raging tantrums on TV! Trump responds frequently in an infantile and out of control manner. He uses his weaknesses to manipulate others.

The Basque diaspora is quite real. Basque live all over the world and on every continent. Most Basque Mexicans consider themselves Mexicans of Basque descent. Many are aware of their Basque heritage but are fully identified with their Mexican nationality. I believe that it's easy to be both. Just like it is easy to be Basque Americans. The USA is a GREAT GREAT country and all Basque Americans could not be happier living here. GORA!

I do not believe that Trump will be the next President of the United States. He is not deserving of the great honor. It a great office and he doesn't measure up!

ps PLEASE keep in mind that Melania Trump is a model with a long history of posing nude and/or nearly nude. Those photos are online for your viewing mes petites!


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Feb 27, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Tom...example of Basque news online:

Web Link

The news is in Spanish, French, English, and in the Basque language.

The Basque Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno also has lots of info on their web page as well as scholarly articles.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Feb 27, 2016 at 2:46 pm

Basque Diaspora: Web Link

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Feb 27, 2016 at 5:18 pm

I won't post anymore but I have to tell you be acknowledged/accepted
as Basque, one must speak Euskara. This ticks off lots of folks in the Basque diaspora. Many young folks don't care much anymore and that is cause for heartache in many families.

What's curious is that nobody seems to want to go out on a limb to say how many words one must know and be able to string together to pass the litmus test! tee hee hee...

Some of the unyielding old timers get ticked off when somebody tells them where to go and I always enjoy the in-fighting! Some it can be very funny and lead to fisticuffs!!!

I usually side with the younger folks but I guess mostly to stir the pot.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Feb 28, 2016 at 8:30 am

Sort-of-anonymous objection noted.

Posted by rosalindr, a resident of San Ramon,
on Feb 29, 2016 at 9:30 pm

rosalindr is a registered user.


The Republican Party doesn't want The Donald to be their nominee either. Republican voters are crazy if they nominate Donald Trump.

Even if he wins the election (heaven help us), Melania won't be First Lady. She has too many miles on her. Trump will trade her in on a newer model before the election or the inauguration.

There are Basque restaurants in San Francisco. My sister and her husband took me to one a few years ago. I don't remember the name, but it was good. Do you have any recommendations for Basque restaurants near here?


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 1, 2016 at 8:47 am

Hi Rox...There's the old style Basque Cultural Center in S. SF.

Also: Web Link

It's worth a short trip with buds to visit any of the above.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 1, 2016 at 8:49 am


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 1, 2016 at 8:52 am

Basque Restaurants: Web Link

Any one of these will put a smile on your lips!

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