Democrats are calling for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s ouster from her No. 2 perch on the Senate Judiciary Committee after she shared warm words and even a hug with Republicans as Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings came to an end.
Feinstein, 87, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, 65, on Thursday shared a mask-free embrace after four days of largely civil proceedings.
The California Democrat complemented Barrett on her family during the proceedings as the judge’s husband and six of seven school-aged children sat arrayed behind her. At one point, she told Barrett that an answer was “really impressive.”
The hearings did no damage to Barrett’s prospects of replacing liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg and a committee vote was set for next Thursday, Oct. 22. A full Senate vote is expected before the Nov. 3 election.
Stoking liberals’ rage, Feinstein told Graham (R-SC) that it was “one of the best set of hearings that I have participated in.”
Barrett, 48, is a favorite among religious conservatives and President Trump on Thursday hailed her near-certain confirmation as a legacy issue — his third justice on the nine-person bench.
The warm-fuzzies enraged Democrats who view Barrett’s glide-path to confirmation as unfairly swinging the court toward conservatives just a few weeks before Election Day.
“It’s time for Sen. Feinstein to step down from her leadership position on the Senate Judiciary Committee. If she won’t, her colleagues need to intervene,” said Demand Justice executive director Brian Fallon.
Fallon, a former national press secretary for Hillary Clinton and alum of the Obama Justice Department’s press shop, said Feinstein “has undercut Democrats’ position at every step of this process.”
He said Feinstein’s failings include “undermining calls for filibuster and Court reform straight through to thanking Republicans for the most egregious partisan power grab in the modern history of the Supreme Court.”
“If Senate Democrats are going to get their act together on the court going forward, they cannot be led by someone who treats Sunrise activists with contempt and the Republican theft of a Supreme Court with kid gloves,” Fallon said.
Meanwhile, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) confirmed that he will support Barrett’s nomination, all but assuring confirmation.
“We should let the winner of the election make this pick,” protested Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) during the final day of committee hearings on Thursday.
Graham, the GOP chairman, offered Klobuchar the consolation that “you all have a good chance of winning the White House” on Nov. 3, and Klobuchar said she appreciated him saying so.
But a strident Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said, “What the Republicans have done to the reputation and integrity of the court through these last three nominations leaves a tarnish on the court that I don’t think the court can bear.”