By Kyeland Jackson–

Since being elected the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell has been hard at work. By that, I mean hard at work ensuring federal judicial appointments don’t work.

McConnell has made it a mantra to stomp out President Obama’s efforts.

Obama recently nominated Merrick Garland to replace Antonin Scalia, a conservative judge who passed away in February. Garland is a Democrat judge, praised as being moderate on some policies and conservative on criminal punishment. In response, McConnell and Senate Republicans refuse to consider him.

Within a week of being refused, Obama nominated Lisabeth Tabor Hughes to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Circuit Court of Appeals is one power level below the Supreme Court. Hughes, a Louisville native, has been praised by fellow judges for her exceptional ability.

But once again, McConnell decided not to consider Obama’s nomination. It’s insanity.

I understand McConnell has different motivations and goals as a Republican. Disagreement sometimes starts confrontation in government between Republicans and Democrats. But no matter the confrontation, the government body are united in ensuring the well-being of all Americans.

So when Senate Republicans refuse to even consider Obama’s nomination, why does it seem they only care for their Americans?

In college we’ve learned to anticipate opposing viewpoints and to consider them before giving our own perspectives. It’s the beauty of free speech and the rights guaranteed to us as a nation.

I’m not saying McConnell needs to approve any of Obama’s nominations. I’ll make that clear. But by refusing to even consider nominations, McConnell is establishing an environment of ignorance and partisan division. His actions, and those of others, are a threat to the environment of public discourse expected in government.

As free-thinking people, we should be welcoming the perspectives of others, not silencing them. Just as you are allowed to voice an opinion, others should be allowed to voice theirs.

Students began to question the nature of public discourse on campus when allegations of racism in Threlkeld Hall surfaced. One student allegedly defaced a study-room white board with racist comments.

While the acts were despicable, one commentator said the student was entitled to his rights of free speech. And I agree, free speech is the right of all Americans.

But that doesn’t mean you can yell “bomb” in an airport and expect to walk away free.

When speech threatens the physical or psychological health of citizens, we expect there to be consequences.

McConnell has the right to say what he wants. Last week he called Obama’s visit to Cuba embarrassing. I don’t like what he says, but I have to appreciate his opinion.

But by not considering the suggestions of others because of party lines, McConnell widens the quagmire between Democrats and Republicans in government. He’s lowering himself to the authoritarian tactics of those very same protesters outside the Trump rally.

I suspect he’s better than that. Especially noting his accomplishments after graduating from U of L, helping to found the McConnell Center and McConnell Scholars program. But as it stands, McConnell’s disrespectful means to get what he wants embarrass me as a U of L graduate and as a Kentuckian.

I expect better from a representative of one of the highest governing bodies in America. Then again, I would expect better from a a five-year-old child.