Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval withdraws name from Supreme Court consideration |

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval withdraws name from Supreme Court consideration

FILE - In this Feb. 20, 2016 file photo, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval participates in the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington. Two people familiar with the process say the White House is considering Sandoval as one of several potential nominees to the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)
AP | FR170079 AP

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval today withdrew his name from the list of potential Supreme Court nominees.

“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 in a statement. “I have also spoken to Senators Reid, Heller and McConnell and expressed the same desire to them.

“The noting 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,” he said.

Sandoval was first mentioned in a statement by Sen. Dean Heller after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

But then Heller reversed himself and joined the group of Senators saying any nomination should wait for the next President.

Sandoval met on Monday at the U.S. Capitol with Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and reportedly said he was interested in being considered. It was Reid who nominated Sandoval to the U.S. District Court. He was confirmed in October 2005 but resigned the position in 2010 to run for Nevada governor.

He was elected that year and re-elected in 2014.

Reid told CNN he would back Sandoval for the appointment telling that news agency, “he’s a good person, has a great record and has been a tremendously good governor in spite of having to deal with some very big problems there.”

Criticism of Sandoval emerged from both sides of the aisle in the 24 hours after his name was mentioned. Liberal groups took issue with his positions on abortion, which he described during his 2010 race as pro-choice but against late-term abortion and federal funding of abortion.

“Sandoval’s checkered history on reproductive freedom should raise some serious flags — it certainly has for us,” NARAL Pro-Choice America said in a statement.

Sandoval’s critics at home have more often come from the right than the left. In November 2012, he became the first Republican governor to expand Medicaid as part of Obama’s health care law, drawing criticism from conservative members of his party.

Sandoval has raised taxes and declined to join state Attorney General Adam Laxalt, a Republican, in a federal lawsuit challenging U.S. regulations that protect the sage grouse. He has argued negotiations with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and others in the Obama administration offer a better chance of easing land-use restrictions for Nevada ranchers, miners and others than a court battle.

He’s limited to two terms as governor and is set to leave office in early 2019. He announced last year he wouldn’t run for Reid’s seat in November. Reid is retiring, and Sandoval would have been a strong favorite.

That issue is now moot with Sandoval’s decision to withdraw from potential consideration for the appointment.

The Senate’s vetting process for any nominee is expected to be viciously political, if hearings take place at all. Regardless of which nominee Obama settles on, “this nomination will be determined by whoever wins the presidency in the fall,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Recommending a popular, moderate Republican would test the unified GOP caucus’s insistence that voters in November and the next president should make the lifetime appointment.

Democrats have tried to keep a daily focus on the issue. On Thursday, about two dozen Democratic senators stood outside the Supreme Court and called on Republicans to consider an Obama nominee.

“We have obstruction that is on steroids,” said Reid.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.