Sen. Mark Kirk on Tuesday became the first Republican to say he might be willing to vote for President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, The Hill reports.
“Obviously I would consider voting for him,” the Illinois senator told reporters before he met with the nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. “That’s the whole purpose.”
Kirk, who is facing a difficult reelection race this year, rebuked his colleagues for refusing to give any consideration to the judge.
“We need open-minded, rational, responsible people to keep an open mind to make sure the process works,” Kirk told a throng of reporters packed in his Capitol office. “I think when you just say ‘I’m not going to meet with him at all,’ that’s too close-minded.”
Kirk’s meeting with Garland — the first by any Republican on Capitol Hill — came just hours after the Supreme Court issued its first major split decision since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The 4-4 deadlock represented a major victory to labor unions, which had faced the possibility of mandatory union fees being overturned for public sector workers.