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Obama to visit Chicago to push for Supreme Court pick

Chicago Tribune

President Barack Obama will return to Chicago next week to meet with law school students at the University of Chicago, where he will push his case for the Senate to take up his selection of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, White House officials said Friday.

Obama returns Thursday to the university where he served as a professor and senior lecturer on constitutional law prior to being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004. Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, was born in Chicago and grew up in suburban Lincolnwood, but will not be making the trip.

Obama's scheduled visit comes as Democrats have sought to ramp up criticism of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and others who have ruled out a confirmation vote for any of the lame-duck president's nominees to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

On Friday, five Democratic members of Illinois' House delegation urged Republican Sen. Mark Kirk to push McConnell and his GOP Senate colleagues to grant a vote. Kirk seeks re-election in November. He faces Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth.

Kirk was the first Republican senator to meet with Garland and called him "one of the most eminent jurists in the country."

"I think we should be doing our job" and consider the nominee, Kirk said of the GOP-led Senate.

But the members of the state's Democratic delegation echoed Duckworth's criticism by seeking to portray Kirk's meeting with Garland and his comments as politically motivated. Garland is scheduled to meet next week with other senators, including Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin.

As for Obama, a White House official said that during the president's Chicago visit he "will continue to make the case for why Judge Garland — and the American people — deserve for the Senate to fulfill its constitutional responsibility and give this eminently qualified nominee a fair hearing and an up-or-down vote."

Obama won't be spending the night at his home. Instead, later Thursday, he will travel to the Los Angeles area to attend an event for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

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