Kirk would meet with Obama SCOTUS nominee
© Greg Nash

Sen. Mark KirkMark KirkThe way forward on the Iran nuclear deal under President Trump ObamaCare repeal bill would defund Planned Parenthood Leaked ObamaCare bill would defund Planned Parenthood MORE (R-Ill.) broke with Republican Party leaders on Wednesday, saying that he would meet with President Obama's Supreme Court nominee. 

"I would welcome the chance to discuss my philosophy, what would be my state's philosophy on the Supreme Court, to be an advocate for expanding personal freedom," he told The Hill.
 
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The Illinois senator's comments come after top Republicans — including Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellLawmakers push one-week stopgap funding bill Overnight Finance: Inside Trump's tax plan | White House mulls order pulling out of NAFTA | New fight over Dodd-Frank begins Dem rep: Trump's tax plan as believable as 'magic, unicorns or Batman' MORE (R-Ky.)— suggested they would not meet with whoever the president nominates, in addition to refusing them committee hearings or votes.
 
Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteBottom Line How Gorsuch's confirmation shapes the next Supreme Court battle THE MEMO: Trump set to notch needed win with Gorsuch MORE (R-N.H.), who like Kirk faces a tough reelection bid in a blue-leaning state, said, separately, Wednesday that she would not meet with the president's nominee. Democrats and outside groups quickly pounced on her position, suggesting that she was putting politics above her constitutional duties.
 
But Kirk, one of the Senate's most vulnerable incumbents, is part of a small number of GOP lawmakers who have backed allowing the president's nominee to have a hearing.
 
He wrote in a Chicago Sun-Times op-ed this week that it is "my 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."
 
Kirk added Wednesday that he believes Obama's nominee should still get a hearing even though McConnell and Republican members of the Judiciary Committee have pledged they won't take any action until next year.
 
Sen. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsOvernight Energy: Lawmakers work toward deal on miners’ benefits Schumer: Senate Russia probe moving too slowly Collins: I'm not working with Freedom Caucus chairman on healthcare MORE (R-Maine) said on Wednesday that while she thinks the president's nominee should get a hearing, it's too early in the process to consider if she would meet with them. 
 
"We don't know who the nominee is going to be. No one's asked for a meeting at this point," she said. "So you're many steps ahead of where the process is right now."