Abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America called Friday for Sen. Dianne Feinstein to be replaced as ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee after the Democratic senator from California praised the highly contentious Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Amy Coney Barrett.
“Amy Barrett and this power grab pose a grave threat to every freedom and right we hold dear and tears the very fabric of our democracy. Americans ― whose lives hang in the balance ― deserve leadership that underscores how unprecedented, shameful and wrong this process is,” NARAL President Ilyse Hogue said in a statement.
“The Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein, failed to make this clear and in fact offered an appearance of credibility to the proceedings that is wildly out of step with the American people,” she added. “As such, we believe the committee needs new leadership.”
Feinstein faced swift criticism after she hugged and praised Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) for running what she said was a great Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Barrett, who was nominated to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the court.
“I just want to thank you. This has been one of the best set of hearings that I’ve participated in,” Feinstein told Graham. “Thank you so much for your leadership.”
Multiple Democrats and progressive organizations reacted to Feinstein’s praise of Graham with shock and anger on Thursday.
“It’s very hard to watch a colleague in decline. That this is occurring publicly is even harder,” one Democratic senator, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told HuffPost of the 87-year-old lawmaker.
Progressive groups Demand Justice, Fix Our Senate and Move On all called for Feinstein’s removal as ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.
“She has undercut Democrats’ position at every step of this process, from 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,” said Brian Fallon, founder and executive director of Demand Justice.
The hearings were hotly contested by Democrats because they took place just weeks away from the presidential election in which the GOP could lose control of the White House and during a public health crisis that has left millions of Americans in dire need of government assistance. Democrats openly opposed the nomination.
President Donald Trump’s nomination of Barrett also went against Ginsburg’s final request that her seat be filled by the winner of the presidential election. Polling showed that the majority of Americans agreed with Ginsburg and thought that the vacancy should be filled after the election.
Rep Katie Porter (D-Calif.) thought quite the opposite of Feinstein, telling HuffPost on Friday that “it was a very poor set of hearings.”
“I disagree strongly with Sen. Feinstein that that set of hearings was one of the best or was even acceptable,” said Porter, who has expressed interest in running for Senate. “I think Amy Coney Barrett did not answer basic questions about her beliefs and stonewalled repeatedly. We got many fewer direct answers than we have out of most Supreme Court hearings.”