WASHINGTON – If U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) was frustrated with conservative freshman Senator Ted Cruz's independence last year, he's got another, perhaps even more irritating dilemma ahead with liberal freshman GOP Senator Mark Kirk from Illinois.
Kirk was the first to break ranks with the Republican caucus and meet with President Barack Obama's nominee to fill the Scalia vacancy, Judge Merrick Garland Tuesday. Kirk pushed for a hearing to consider Garland.
"We need rational, adult open-minded consideration of the constitutional process which Judge Garland is part of," the Illinois senator said. "He's been duly nominated by the elected president of the United States to fill a vacancy which we know exists on the court, and we need open-minded, rational, responsible people to keep an open mind to make sure the process works."
Kirk pushed for consideration despite two Republican constituency groups coming out against Garland – the National Rifle Association and the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Even the New York Times admitted that Garland's addition to the Supreme Court would cause the equally divided Court to move "dramatically to the left."
Kirk faces a tough re-election in Illinois, where he is facing Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth in November.