Dianne Feinstein steps down as top Democrat in Senate Judicial Panel after a hug from Lindsey Graham
California Senator Dianne Feinstein said she will step down from her role as the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee and give up the powerhouse following public criticism of her bipartisan outreach and her handling of the Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
Feinstein, 87, said in a statement that she would not seek the position in the next Congress.
Tensions came to a head during the Barrett hearings, when Feinstein closed the proceedings with a hug for Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, RS.C., and a public thanks to Graham for a job well done.
Neither senator was wearing a face mask at the time of the hug.
Senator Dianne Feinstein will step down as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee starting January when the next Congress begins. In the photo, ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (R) and Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (L) shook hands as the confirmation hearings before Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett ended last month. came
Feinstein’s resignation comes after she drew the ire of progressives over her handling of Amy Coney Barrett’s controversial Supreme Court confirmation, including this hug with Graham
Democrats strongly opposed Barrett’s nomination to replace the late liberal icon Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“This was one of the best hearings I have attended,” Feinstein said at the end of the hearing.
Those actions immediately put her in the crosshairs of some influential liberals who had been asking for a while if she was a fit for the job.
“It’s time for Senator Feinstein to step down from her leadership position on the Senate Judiciary Committee,” said Brian Fallon, the executive director of Demand Justice, who opposes Conservative nominees in court. “If she doesn’t, her colleagues will have to intervene.”
Feinstein also irritated some of her fellow Democrats during Barrett’s first hearing, in 2017 before an appeals court, when she said that Barrett’s opposition to abortion must be rooted in her religion and wondered if it would influence her statements on the bench. saying dogma lives loudly in you. ‘
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) ranking member speaks at Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing.
Republicans rushed to confirm Barrett ahead of the election, shifting the court to the right for decades. Democrats felt that Feinstein, in the photo Graham hugged, wasn’t fighting hard enough for the chair
Republicans took the phrase and said it was offensive to Catholics. The resistance helped Barrett rise to the ranks of the Supreme Court.
Graham also seized Feinstein’s words of praise at the end of Barrett’s hearings, reiterated them regularly on the campaign trail in his reelection bid this year, and used the backlash to belittle Democrats.
“I hate the fact that when I say something nice about me, about the way I conducted the hearings, it has now come to the point where people will expel you from the office,” said Graham.
While Feinstein didn’t say why she stepped down, she said she would turn her attention to wildfire and drought problems and the effects of climate change, which are important in her home state.
She plans to continue serving in the judiciary, credits and intelligence panels, but said she will not seek the role of top Democrat on any of those committees.
Chairman Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and League Member Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) hug after fourth day of confirmation hearings before Judge Amy Coney Barrett nominated by Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington
“I will continue to do my utmost to bring about positive change in the years to come,” she said in the statement. She has held the position of the judiciary since 2017.
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, said he will try to replace Feinstein as the committee’s top Democrat. He is third in seniority on the panel, after Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, who is currently the top Democrat on the credit committee.
Durbin organized the Democratic response at the Barrett hearings and coordinated an effort to direct criticism of the upcoming consideration of the health bill by the court and away from the candidate personally.
He led daily news conferences during pauses in the hearings with the other Democrats on the panel, while Feinstein usually did not appear.
“We need to roll up our sleeves and get to work to undo the damage of the past four years and protect basic civil and human rights,” Durbin said in a statement.
Durbin’s office has said that there is nothing in the Democratic caucus rules that prevents him from serving in his leadership position and also as the supreme Democrat in the field of the judiciary.
Feinstein, a former mayor of San Francisco, was first elected to the senate in 1992. She is pictured here during her campaign at that year’s Democratic National convention in New York
Some Democrats felt that Feinstein was not fighting hard enough for the seat previously held by Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the late liberal icon, in the photo on the left that Feinstein met in July 1993
First elected in 1992, Feinstein was a powerful force in the Democratic Party and is the former chairman of the intelligence panel. She did not shy away from duality, even though her state has become increasingly liberal and both parties are more polarized.
In a statement, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said he was “ grateful for Senator Feinstein’s leadership and contributions to our caucus and country ” in the judiciary.
Feinstein’s experience, decades of relationship with President-elect Biden, and leadership on so many issues will continue to be an asset to our caucus, California, and the country as we begin a new term with the new president, ” said Schumer, DN.Y.
It is still unclear which party will have the majority in the Senate next year. If Democrats win two second elections in Georgia, they could take the Senate very narrowly.
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is expected to reclaim the next Republican spot on the panel after leaving two years to head the Senate Finance Committee.
First elected in 1992, Feinstein was a powerful force in the Democratic Party and is the former chairman of the intelligence panel. She is pictured in April 2000 on Meet The Press