Kirk demonstrates independence

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Kirk demonstrates independence

Jacob Tomlinson

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After the sudden passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, an outpour came from both sides of the aisle. On the Republican side, the leaders wanted to wait until the next president is elected for there to be a Supreme Court nomination. For this reason, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has argued, and did so right after Scalia’s untimely and unfortunate death, that the Senate will not consider a Supreme Court nomination until the general election is over.

 On the Democratic side, some resorted to name-bashing the Republicans, while others stuck to the more appropriate line of reasoning and invoked the United States Constitution. It is the President’s job to nominate Supreme Court justices; it is the Senate’s job to give advice and consent to the President for those nominations.

 Fast forward to President Barack Obama doing exactly what he said he was going to do (i.e., nominate someone for Justice Scalia’s open seat) and he chose Merrick Garland. Garland is a 63-year-old chief justice for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. As a fun fact, he is also an Illinoisan.

 More importantly, though, Garland has been described as a neutral, moderate and centrist judge. Some have even gone as far as to describe him as a model judge. You know, a judge who does not close his mind because of his ideology, but rather looks at the merit of a case and decides on law, perhaps like all of them are supposed to do.

 Be that as it may and knowing the above information about Garland, would it not make more sense to vet him and let the Senate decide with an up-or-down vote whether to send him to the highest court in the United States? After all, it is the job of the Senate to vet and vote on the nominations the president puts forward. Republicans are too hard headed, you say? Well, before you go generalizing — or what I like to call lying — let’s take a look at a fellow Illinoisan:

 U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, a Republican, recently announced that he would be meeting with Garland on Tuesday to discuss the nomination and the nominee’s views of the Constitution. Just last week, this Senate Republican argued that the Senate should be doing its job, vetting the nominee, and giving Garland a simple up-or-down vote on whether to give him a job for the rest of his life.

 Kirk is just playing toward the moderates and the liberals with the hope of getting their vote in the tough election he is going to have this November, you argue? Well, certainly there is no knowing whether or not this is the real reason for Sen. Kirk’s departure from the stance of the Senate Republican leadership. However, this is definitely not the first time Kirk has been publicly against what the Republicans in the Senate are doing. Kirk, unlike many of his Senate Republican counterparts, is considered a moderate on many issues and will work toward common sense goals to benefit Illinoisans, no matter what side of the aisle his colleagues are on.

 This example sheds light on an important truth to keep in mind: partisan identification and ideology are not the same. That is, just because someone is a Republican does not make them conservative on every issue. Likewise, just because someone is a Democrat does not make them liberal on every issue. This generalization, or lie, must end with our generation and rather than going to the polls to vote Democrat or Republican, let us go to the polls to vote for people with stances on salient issues of the day.

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