GOP Sen. Mark Kirk Bucks Senate Leaders On Obama’s SCOTUS Nominee

February 22, 2016 2:59 p.m.

Moderate Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) on Monday strayed from the hard line issued by Senate Republican leaders on President Obama’s nomination to the Supreme Court, calling for the Senate to consider the President’s nominee.

“I recognize the right of the president, be it Republican or Democrat, to place before the Senate a nominee for the Supreme Court and I fully expect and look forward to President Barack Obama advancing a nominee for the Senate to consider,” Kirk wrote in a Monday op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Kirk’s first public statement on how the Senate should proceed after Scalia’s death had been keenly anticipated because he’s a moderate Republican facing re-election this year in a closely watched race.

“I also recognize my duty as a senator to either vote in support or opposition to that nominee following a fair and thorough hearing along with a complete and transparent release of all requested information,” he continued. “The Senate’s role in providing advice and consent is as important and significant as the president’s role in proposing a nominee.”

Kirk recalled his return to the U.S. Capitol after recovering from a stroke to call on his Senate colleagues to work past partisan bickering. He said that everyone in the Senate shares “a foundation of deep patriotism.”

“I know we all share this common goal; unfortunately the volume of rancor and partisanship in Washington makes it hard sometimes for us to achieve our full promise,” he wrote. “But, now more than ever, we must all focus on that shared common goal as we deal with the super-heated partisan rhetoric following the tragic loss of a great American, Antonin Scalia.”

Kirk said that a “partisan or extreme nominee would not be prudent,” and said he hoped Obama would select “a nominee who can bridge differences, a nominee who finds common ground and a nominee who does not speak or act in the extreme.”

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“Such a selection by the president would demonstrate a break from the rancor and partisanship of Washington and a real commitment to a new beginning even as his own term nears its end,” Kirk wrote.

Shortly after the news broke that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had passed away, Senate Republicans indicated that they would block any nominee selected by Obama. Since then, a few Republican senators have suggested they would be open to considering a nomination put forth by Obama.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the chair of the Judiciary Committee, last week appeared to leave the door open to holding hearings on Obama’s nominee. He told Radio Iowa that he “would wait until the nominee is made before I would make any decisions.” But later in the week, the Iowa Senator co-wrote an op-ed with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stating that the next president should nominate Scalia’s successor.

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