As the Senate Judiciary Committee wrapped up its questioning of Amy Coney Barrett Thursday, speeding its way toward nominating her to the Supreme Court before Election Day, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the fractious committee, startled some in the room with her closing remarks.
“I just want to thank you,” Feinstein said, looking over at Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the committee, and the senator most responsible for rushing through this nomination in near-record time, despite reversing an earlier pledge to block any nominee whose name was put forth in the last year of a presidential term. “This has been one of the best set of hearings that I’ve participated in. Thank you so much for your leadership.”
The two then embraced. Neither one wore a mask.
— CSPAN (@cspan) October 15, 2020
Feinstein’s praise must have come as a surprise to her fellow Democrats on the committee, including Kamala Harris, her party’s nominee for vice president, many of whom have said that these hearings are illegitimate and harmful to the country. From the first day of the hearings on Monday, they have argued that, instead of rushing to confirm a justice who in all likelihood would doom the Affordable Care Act, and to do so in the middle of a pandemic, the Senate should be working a stimulus bill for those out of work and struggling to pay their bills.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar was among of the most blunt of her colleagues, sharply criticizing the process led by Graham in her opening statement. “This hearing is a sham,” Klobuchar said. “I think it shows real messed up priorities from the Republican Party. But I am here to do my job, to tell the truth. To all Americans, we don’t have some clever procedural way to stop this sham. To stop them from rushing through a nominee.”
She added, “Let me tell you a political secret: I doubt that it will be a brilliant cross-examination that’s going to change this judge’s trajectory this week. No, it is you. It is you calling Republican senators and telling them enough is enough … It is you voting even when they try to do everything to stop you. It is you making your own blueprint for the future, instead of crying defeat.”
And Harris was no less withering in her closing statement, saying, ““Sadly, my Senate Republican colleagues are doing, I believe, great harm with this illegitimate process.”
It’s a safe bet that neither senator was in any rush to join Feinstein and Graham in a group hug.
Twitter was quick to call out the 87-year-old senator, who controversially ran for re-election in 2018, some saying she should resign.
Excuse me while I go punch a hole in the wall https://t.co/HIaJnssYY7
— Adam Parkhomenko (@AdamParkhomenko) October 15, 2020
It’s time for Dianne Feinstein to step down. You can respect her service, but she’s done Democrats a huge disservice and proven ill-equipped to handle the GOP degradation of our judicial system.
— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) October 15, 2020
Find someone who looks at you the way Dianne Feinstein looks at Lindsey Graham 🤨 pic.twitter.com/s5v6D9l4v5
— Genny Aversano (@gennyaversano) October 15, 2020
Brian Fallon, founder and executive director of Demand Justice, a progressive judicial advocacy group, called for Feinstein’s removal from the Senate 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,” Fallon said in a statement.