Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) will step down as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee in the next Congress, after facing blowback from progressives for her handling of Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing, reports Politico. Feinstein plans to focus her attention on combating climate change and the coronavirus pandemic. Members of her own party expressed concern before Barrett’s hearing that the 87-year-old wouldn’t be aggressive enough. Her approach to filling the seat of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg confirmed many Democrats’ fears, after she praised Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and gave him a hug at the conclusion.
“This was a necessary step if Democrats are ever going to meaningfully confront the damage Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell have done to the federal judiciary,” said Brian Fallon of the liberal group Demand Justice. “Going forward, Democrats … must be led by someone who will not wishfully cling to a bygone era of civility and decorum that Republicans abandoned long ago.” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) is next in line for the job, followed by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Durbin said he intended to seek the position, observing, “We have to roll up our sleeves and get to work on undoing the damage of the last four years and protecting fundamental civil and human rights.” Even if Democrats don’t prevail in the scheduled Georgia runoffs, the ranking member job will require pressuring Republicans to move President-elect Joe Biden’s nominations.