Senator Mark Kirk shames his 'closed-minded' Republican colleagues for boycotting Merrick Garland
Merrick Garland (Screenshot)

Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois on Tuesday accused many of his fellow Senate Republicans of being "closed-minded" by refusing to consider President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kirk, the first Republican senator to meet with Garland since the appellate court judge's March 16 nomination, told reporters before the private meeting: "We need open-minded, rational, responsible people to keep an open mind to make sure the (confirmation) process works."

Asked by a reporter whether that meant that Republican senators, such as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, were not open-minded and rational because they are refusing even to meet with Garland, Kirk responded, "I think when you just say, 'I'm not going to meet with him at all' - that's too closed-minded."

Kirk, a first-term senator, is facing a tough re-election battle and may be one of the most endangered Senate Republicans in the Nov. 8 elections.

Obama nominated Garland to replace conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who died on Feb. 13.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Will Dunham)