Sen. Mark Kirk wants Senate vote on Obama's Scalia replacement

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Monday, February 22, 2016
U.S. Senator Mark Kirk
U.S. Senator Mark Kirk

WASHINGTON (WLS) -- Illinois Senator Mark Kirk believes the U.S. Senate should hear and vote on President Obama's nominee for the United States Supreme Court.

In an op ed for the Chicago Sun-Times, Kirk wrote, "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."

Justice Antonin Scalia died on Feb. 14 while on a quail hunting trip outside of El Paso, Texas of natural causes. He was nominated to the court by Ronald Reagan in 1986, and was its longest-serving justice. Scalia was a conservative justice and constitutional originalist.

Almost immediately after his death, Republican leaders including GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said his vacant seat should not be filled until there is a new president in January of 2017. President Obama, who has 11 months left in office, said he plans to fulfill his constitutional responsibility to nominate a successor to the bench, and has said there is plenty of time for the Senate to approve a new justice.

Kirk writes in his editorial, "I also recognize my duty as a senator to either vote in support or opposition following a fair and thorough hearing along with a complete and transparent release of all requested information."

Kirk also referenced President Obama's recent visit to the Illinois State House, saying his sincerest hope is that the president will pick a nominee "who can bridge differences, a nominee who finds common ground and a nominee who does not speak or act in the extreme."

Sen. Kirk is running for reelection this year. Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, who is running for the Illinois Senate seat, responded to the op ed in a statement, saying, "I'm pleased Sen. Kirk has chosen under pressure to do the right thing and support the President's constitutional duty to nominate a Supreme Court nominee. He should go a step further, however, and demand Senators McConnell and Grassley end their obstruction and hold hearings and allow a vote on a nominee."

Andrea Zopp, who is also seeking the Democratic nomination in the U.S. Senate race, also issued a statement, saying she "calls on Senator Kirk to commit to voting to confirm any qualified nominee the President puts forward. If she was in the Senate right now, she would make that commitment."