Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Monday announced she will not seek the chair or ranking member position for the next Senate Judiciary Committee, after four years as the leading Democrat and recent criticism and calls to step down.
Feinstein said she plans to increase her focus on the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and health care.
Though she will not have a leadership role, Feinstein said she looks forward to working with the Biden administration as a senior Democrat on the Judiciary, Intelligence, Appropriations and Rules committees, noting the committees intend to prioritize immigration reform, gun safety and inequities in criminal justice.
There was speculation Feinstein might step down after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) alluded to his disappointment in Feinstein’s handling of the committee’s confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett last month, telling reporters he had a “long and serious talk” with her but wouldn’t divulge more about the conversation.
Feinstein, 87, received criticism from some Democrats for publicly thanking committee chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), 65, for his handling of the confirmation process, saying it was one of the best she’s seen, and hugging him without wearing a mask despite Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and both being in a high-risk age group.
She was also rebuked by some Republicans who resurfaced a comment she made at Barrett’s confirmation for another judicial role three years ago, questioning if she could rule on abortion cases without personal bias given her religious views, saying the “dogma lives loudly in you.”
Feinstein’s praise for Graham was out of step with the party line as Democratic lawmakers argued against moving forward with a confirmation process so close to the election. They said the president in office in January should get to nominate a justice to the high court, noting the Judiciary Committee refused to start the process for President Obama’s pick Judge Merrick Garland during the 2016 election. Despite the criticism, committee member Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) supported Feinstein in a statement after her announcement. He tweeted he is grateful for her leadership and commitment to reproductive rights, immigration reform, gun violence prevention and dedication to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.
The liberal groups Demand Justice, Fix Our Senate and NARAL Pro-Choice America called for Feinstein’s resignation as a leader of the Senate Judiciary Committee. NARAL President Ilyse Hogue said Americans “deserve leadership that underscores how unprecedented, shameful and wrong this process is” and claimed Feinstein’s actions showed she is out of touch.
Source: Forbes – Business