Kirk would meet with Obama SCOTUS nominee
© Greg Nash

Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkAdvocates push for EpiPens on flights after college student's mid-flight allergic reaction Funding the fight against polio Ex-GOP Sen. Kirk registers to lobby 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 McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSocial media never intended to be in the news business — but just wait till AI takes over Ex-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Two-thirds of Americans support assault weapons ban: Fox News poll 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 Ann AyotteTrump makes rare trip to Clinton state, hoping to win back New Hampshire Key endorsements: A who's who in early states Sinema, Gallagher fastest lawmakers in charity race 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 Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move Top Foreign Affairs Republican: 'It would benefit all of us' for Omar, Tlaib to visit Israel 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."