Democrats are calling for Sen. Dianne Feinstein to step down from her leadership position on the Senate Judiciary Committee after she hugged Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham at the close of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings on Thursday.
Barrett’s confirmation hearings have been politically divided, with Republicans praising her judicial philosophy and Democrats fearing that she would slash the Affordable Care Act and overturn precedents like Roe v. Wade. Barrett also repeatedly avoided answering Democrats’ questions during the hearings.
On Thursday, Feinstein not only hugged Graham, who chairs the committee, but also thanked him for a job well done.
“This has been one of the best set of hearings that I’ve participated in,” Feinstein told Graham.
In response, Brian Fallon, the executive director of the progressive group Demand Justice, told the Associated Press that “it’s time for Sen. Feinstein to step down” and that if she doesn’t, “her colleagues need to intervene.” His group has also started an online petition people can sign if they agree with that sentiment.
Judicial appointments have long been a flash point between Democrats and Republicans, especially during President Donald Trump’s administration. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has worked with the president to remodel the judiciary through the installation of conservative judges.
All of this has left many liberals bitter at Democratic leadership, including Feinstein, who is the minority leader on the Senate Judiciary Committee and will become chair if the Democrats win the Senate next month.
In a Thursday tweet, the “Pod Save America” host Jon Lovett called the Republican judiciary strategy an “ongoing travesty” and said Feinstein’s behavior at the close of the hearing showed “how poorly represented” Democrats were by her.
Feinstein, 87, is the fifth-most-senior member of the Senate, second only to Patrick Leahy within her party. She has represented the state of California since 1992 and has almost always won reelection by a large margin.
Business Insider contacted Feinstein’s office for comment Friday morning but did not immediately receive a response.
At the conclusion of the Barrett hearings on Thursday, Feinstein released a statement saying she planned to vote “no” on Barrett’s confirmation.
“Judiciary Committee Democrats had one goal this week: to show what’s at stake under a 6-3 conservative Supreme Court — and we did that. We showed that Judge Barrett has a long history of opposing the Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade and represents the vote to overturn both,” she said.
“The Senate is structured so the majority had absolute control over this process. When Republicans signaled they’d move ahead in the face of all objections, the only thing we could do was show this nominee would radically alter the court, and we accomplished that.”