below, press release from Giannoulias...
CONGRESSMAN KIRK: WILL YOU OPPOSE THIS NOMINEE, TOO?
To please the Far Right and obstruct President Obama's agenda, Kirk opposed nomination of Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor
Will he now oppose U.S. Solicitor General Kagan?
CHICAGO - On the day President Obama announced the nomination of U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court, Democratic nominee for Senate Alexi Giannoulias and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky challenged Republican Congressman Mark Kirk to take a firm position on General Kagan, and explain his opposition to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was confirmed by the Senate last year, 68-31.
"President Obama's selection of Elena Kagan ought to be applauded, and I encourage the Senate to act swiftly, fairly and judiciously toward her confirmation," Giannoulias said. "General Kagan's experience, temperament and demonstrated ability to forge consensus will serve the Court and our nation well."
Kagan was nominated in January 2009, by President Obama to be U.S. Solicitor General, and was confirmed by the Senate in March of that year, receiving the support of all Democrats and Republican Senators Coburn, Snowe, Collins, Gregg, Kyl and Lugar.
Later that year, President Obama made his first Supreme Court pick, resulting in the confirmation of Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Justice Sotomayor made history, becoming both the first person of Hispanic heritage and only the third woman to serve on the Court. Giannoulias enthusiastically supported her nomination, while Congressman Kirk clearly but quietly opposed her.
"Justice Sotomayor has been a tremendous addition to the Supreme Court," Giannoulias said. "She is a justice who brings a first-rate legal mind and a respect for the Constitution to the bench."
"Today is a great day for all Americans as President Obama nominates one of our nation's finest legal minds to the Supreme Court, and I am optimistic she will be confirmed," Congresswoman Schakowsky said. "I was shocked to learn that Congressman Kirk opposed Justice Sotomayor's groundbreaking nomination. Both women bring strong legal backgrounds and records of building consensus on complex legal issues. I am sure Congressman Kirk's opposition came from a desire to appeal to the right-wing fringe of his party, just as we saw when he courted Sarah Palin's endorsement and supported the Stupak amendment."
During a radio interview last summer on Champaign's WDWS-AM, Kirk stated his opposition to Sotomayor's appointment, referring to her as a "hyper-activist," [audio available here], despite her 17-year record on the federal bench and impeccable credentials. The Senate confirmed Sotomayor on a vote of 68-31. Kirk joined an interesting collection of right-wing figures and noted obstructionists in opposing Sotomayor's nomination, including Senators Mitch McConnell and Jim DeMint, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin.
"Congressman Kirk's opposition to Justice Sotomayor remains inexplicable and wholly out of touch with the people of Illinois, and one can only conclude that he prioritizes his good standing with extreme right-wing figures over what's best for our country," Giannoulias said. "Given the Senate's unique role in the Supreme Court process, candidate Kirk owes the people of Illinois an explanation for his opposition to Justice Sotomayor, as well as his position on General Kagan."
Transcript of WDWS-AM Radio interview:
Question: And, again talking about a big senate issue recently, the Senate advises and consents on all appointments; the most notable one of late is that of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court of the United States, how would you have voted on her nomination?
Kirk: I would have voted no, because her judicial philosophy appears to be much more activist than I would support. When we have someone given a lifetime appointment to the federal bench, they should interpret the law, but if they start to make it, they can get into a territory where they can get out of touch with the American people, it's much better to have elected lawmakers making law, because then we can get even with them in the next election. When we have seen wise and considered use of judicial opinions the system works well. When we have a hyper-activists judge - hyper-activist judges, making up their own mind, sometimes with views wildly out of range with the American people, such as the ninth circuit that covers the West Coast, you've got a set of unelected judges making decisions that a majority of Americans don't agree with, it in the long run even hurts the court and its reputation.