Debate over Scalia successor so soon after death is disrespectful, Sen. Mark Kirk says

Robin Opsahl, Assistant City Editor

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) criticized Senate leaders Monday for reactions to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, saying both parties are being disrespectful by immediately making his death a political issue.

The senator released a statement Monday after the death of Scalia, who died unexpectedly Saturday in rural west Texas, criticizing the current debates between the U.S. Senate’s Republican majority and President Barack Obama over who would appoint his successor on the Supreme Court. The president pledged to nominate someone to the court before the end of his term, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.) said Senate Republicans said they would block any nomination to replace Scalia, who was known for his staunch conservatism and “original intent” interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

The Supreme Court vacancy has caused controversy because Scalia’s absence leaves the court with four liberal and four conservative judges, so the new judge will be a deciding vote on many issues. Kirk criticized both parties for turning Scalia’s death into a political issue within days of his passing, calling the debate “unseemly.”

“Scalia was a giant in the history of American jurisprudence,” Kirk said in the statement. “Let us take the time to honor his life before the inevitable debate erupts.”

However, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who is running against Kirk for the Senate seat, said he has a duty to take a position on the issue.

“Senator Mark Kirk must immediately level with the people of Illinois, and let us know whether he supports the Constitution, or if he’ll be a rubber stamp for Mitch McConnell’s obstructionist and unconstitutional gambit,” Duckworth said in a statement Monday.

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