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What They're Saying in Illinois about the Supreme Court Nomination

Summary: 
Leaders in Illinois are speaking out and telling Senate Republicans to do their job.

Across the state, Illinoisans continue to speak out against Senate Republicans’ refusal to do their job and give Judge Garland a hearing and vote. From business leaders, to elected officials, to local newspapers, Illinois voices have voiced their disagreement with the Republican leadership as they inject partisanship into the Supreme Court and refuse to carry out certain parts of their job for partisan gain.

Chicago City Council: “BE IT RESOLVED, That we, the Mayor and Members of the City Council of the City of Chicago, assembled this thirteenth day of April, 2016, do hereby urge the Senate of the United States to perform its constitutional duty to provide advice and consent on the President's Supreme Court nominee by promptly scheduling a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee for Judge Merrick Garland; holding a confirmation vote on the Senate floor, with opportunity for debate on Judge Merrick Garland's nomination; and filling the vacancy on the Supreme Court without undue and unnecessary delay.”

Thomas Gray, President of Illinois Municipal League and Village President of Village of Chatham: “As both a practicing attorney and local government leader, I know the detrimental effects that can come from deadlocked decisions in our legal system. Especially through the lens of our nation’s highest court, we should see political disputes and the justice system as separate and unique entities, never allowing either to interfere with the other.”

Margaret Wilson, Director of Research and Development at Taj Development Company, Inc.: “The American economy is just beginning to truly recover and stability is of vital importance. Delays in court decisions will add to the uncertain and cannot be tolerated. We need a justice now.”

Richard Dodson, Owner of Litchfield Cc: “I think it would be a very good choice. He is a man with great judgment and many other characteristics that would make him a great choice in a job that that needs him. The seat shouldn't be left empty when our nation needs him.”

Equality Illinois: Kirk and Durbin Should Promptly Act on Court Replacement. “​Already, the Senate Majority Leader, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, and several of Sen. Kirk’s Republican colleagues have called for a delay of nearly a year until the new president can nominate Justice Scalia’s successor. This is an abuse of power and contrary to the United States Constitution and American history. We hope Sen. Kirk accepts that it is President Obama’s constitutional authority and responsibility to fill the vacancy.”

Journal Gazette & Times Courier: 1 politician shows some good sense (Editorial). “In that vein, it is refreshing to see Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois buck his party’s leadership over delaying hearings on President Barack Obama’s nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court.  Obama has nominated Merrick Garland, a Lincolnshire, Ill., native and current chief judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., to replace Antonin Scalia on the nation’s highest court….Current Republicans did not invent this stalling tactic.  But we believe the American people are tired of the games politicians play. We believe the people expect elected officials to perform their duties in Washington and in Springfield.  As Kirk has said: ‘I’m showing what a rational, responsible guy would do that really wants the constitutional process to go forward.’ Exactly.  It shouldn’t be asking too much to expect office holders to be rational and responsible.”

Chicago Sun Times: Raw Republican Politics Threaten Legitimacy Of Supreme Court (Editorial). “Bad politics can spread like a virus, threatening the legitimacy of even as great a democracy as the United States of America.  In so many words, that was President Barack Obama’s message Thursday during a visit to Chicago to discuss his nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Obama, in a talk with students at the University of Chicago Law School, framed the refusal of the Republican-controlled Senate to even grant Garland a hearing as a dangerous step toward eroding the public’s confidence in our nation’s entire system of governance. The Senate’s refusal to act is less about ‘one vacant seat’ on the Supreme Court, he said, than about ‘how we operate as a democracy.’  Sadly, Senate Republicans seem to be perfectly willing to let the erosion go on. Most of them again this week — Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois being one of the rare exceptions — have refused to even chat up the nominee in their Capitol Hill offices. They are worried more about not offending their most rigid right-wing supporters than about doing their constitutional duty.  With every new day this goes on, the Orwellian double-talk and intellectual dishonesty grow more offensive.”

Ottawa Times: Regardless of reason, a bold step forward (Editorial). “As previously stated in this space, if the Republicans, who hold the majority in the Senate don’t approve of Obama's nominee, they can vote Garland down in the nomination process. They ought to be able to time it such that it gives their members political cover in November yet hamstrings Obama when he truly enters his lame duck period.  Of course, they face the possibility of a new president, such as Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, nominating someone far more unconventional than the widely praised Garland (Kirk called him ‘one of the most eminent jurists in the country’). Collins raised that possibility in her own radio interview.  Yet it’s clear McConnell and his cohorts think they’re playing a winning hand. It’s also clear they favor partisan politics over actually doing the job they were elected to do, so it’s going to take a lot more than Mark Kirk and Susan Collins to right the ship.  Maybe Kirk wouldn’t have taken these steps were he not facing Duckworth. Perhaps he’d have done the right thing regardless. But no matter the reason, he stepped boldly forward and Illinoisans should be proud of his effort. Let’s hope he’s not alone.”

Chicago Tribune: Vote Him Up Or Down, But Vote: Merrick Garland, On The Merits (Editorial). “In nominating Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Antonin Scalia, President Barack Obama on Wednesday praised the Illinois native as a judge ‘widely recognized not only as one of America's sharpest legal minds, but someone who brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, even-handedness and excellence.’ Over nearly two decades of service on a federal court of appeals, Garland has won nearly universal admiration.  He is in little danger of being ‘borked’ — subjected to a nonstop barrage of attacks on his judicial philosophy and his character such as that inflicted on Robert Bork after he was nominated in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan. Bork was not confirmed; the partisan unfairness and personal ugliness he encountered set a political tone that resonates to this day in judicial nomination fights.  Republicans don't question Garland's fitness for the job, but rather Obama's insistence on making any nomination. Their position is that at this late stage of his presidency, he shouldn't nominate — and the Senate shouldn't confirm — a new justice, but should leave the decision to the next president. Said the No. 2 senator in the Republican leadership, John Cornyn of Texas: ‘At this critical juncture in our nation's history, Texans and the American people deserve to have a say in the selection of the next lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. The only way to empower the American people and ensure they have a voice is for the next president to make the nomination to fill this vacancy.’”