Saturday, March 19, 2016

Republican Senator Calls for Vote on Judge Garland

While the Republicans continue their unprecedented obstruction of Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, some cracks in the party's facade are showing.  Now, Senator Mark Kirk (R) has called on his Senate colleagues to "man up" and hold a vote on Judge Garland.   Kirk, it should be noted, is facing a rough re-election fight and seemingly doesn't want to be tagged with the obstructionist label.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at this development.  Here are highlights:

Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois on Friday became the first Republican senator to call for an up-or-down vote on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, saying on a Chicago radio show that his colleagues ought to “just man up and cast a vote.”

That Kirk would be first to break with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other GOP colleagues, who believe the next president should pick the replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia, is not particularly surprising: Kirk was already one of two Republican senators, with Susan Collins of Maine, to call for hearings.

Kirk faces what is perhaps the most difficult Senate reelection race in the nation — running during a presidential election year as a Republican in a state that hasn’t voted for a Republican president since George H.W. Bush in 1988. He is pitted against Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D), who has already sought to tie Kirk to national Republicans, including GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump.

Kirk, speaking Friday morning on WLS-AM, said that the Senate “should go through the process the Constitution has already laid out” but that he did not see McConnell relenting before the election.

“I think given Mitch’s view, I don’t see his view changing too much,” Kirk said. “Eventually we will have an election, and we will have a new president, and the new president will come forward with a nomination.”

Among Senate Republicans, only Kirk and Collins have said they favor holding hearings on Garland’s nomination. 

Kirk’s comments come three days before Democratic activists plan a nationwide “Day of Action” to protest Republican senators who are opposed to taking up Garland’s nomination.

At least some Democrats were not impressed by Kirk’s willingness to break with McConnell: “If Senator Kirk were serious about fulfilling his constitutional responsibilities, he would publicly rebuke the strategy of the Republican Majority Leader he voted for, not predict the strategy’s success,” said Sean Savett, a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Illinois.

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