President Barack Obama should nominate a U.S. Supreme Court justice to fill the vacancy created after Antonin Scalia's unexpected death earlier this month, and the Senate should give that nominee "a fair and thorough hearing," U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) said Monday.
Kirk holds a different position on the Supreme Court vacancy than Senate Majority Leader Mitchell McConnell and Republican presidential candidates, who argue that the next person elected president should appoint Scalia's successor.
The Republican Illinois senator, who is set to have a difficult re-election fight, announced his position on the issue in an op-ed published in the Chicago Sun-Times.
"As a 23-year veteran of the U.S. Navy Reserve and as a United States senator, I swore an oath to protect and uphold the constitution. That oath is to our constitution, not to a party or any one individual, but to the ideals that bind our nation," Kirk wrote. "In that role, 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 went on to explain that he also recognizes his "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. The Senate's role in providing advice and consent is as important and significant as the president's role in proposing a nominee."
U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL,8) is among the Democratic candidates vying to challenge Kirk in the general election.
"I'm pleased Senator Kirk has chosen under pressure to do the right thing and support the president's constitutional duty to nominate a Supreme Court nominee," Duckworth said in a statement. "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."
Duckworth is competing with state Sen. Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) and Andrea Zopp, former president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, in the Democratic senatorial primary.