CNA Staff, Oct 19, 2020 / 08:00 pm (CNA).- Abortion-advocacy groups have called for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to step down as ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee after the confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
In an Oct. 16, statement, Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL, called for “new leadership” for Democrats on the committee following Feinstein’s polite tone in remarks at the conclusion of the four days of Senate hearings last week.
During the hearing on Thursday, Feinstein thanked Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, for presiding over “one of the best set of hearings that I’ve participated in.”
“I want to thank you for your fairness and the opportunity of going back and forth,” she said.
“It leaves one with a lot of hopes, a lot of questions, and even some ideas–perhaps some good bipartisan legislation we can put together to make this great country even better,” said Feinstein, who is pro-choice, has not supported the nomination of Barrett to the Supreme Court, and has in the past criticized the judge’s Catholicism.
The two senators then shook hands and embraced.
Feinstein’s remarks to Graham, Hogue alleged, lent an “appearance of credibility to the proceedings,” one that is “widely out of step with the American people.”
“As such, we believe the committee needs new leadership,” she said, calling Barrett’s confirmation process “illegitimate” and “a sham.”
Hogue said that Barrett, a Catholic, an appeals court judge, law professor, and mother of seven, poses “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.”
Barrett was nominated to the position of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on September 26, eight days after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Feinstein has served as ranking member of the committee since January 2017. During hearings that year for Barrett’s confirmation to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Feinstein challenged Barrett over her Catholic faith, observing to Barrett that “the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.”
NARAL has consistently endorsed Feinstein during her time in the Senate, saying in 2018 that she is “at the forefront of the movement to safeguard our rights.”
“We need leaders in the Senate like Senator Feinstein who will stand up for the rights of women and families across California,” said NARAL in their 2018 endorsement.
NARAL was not the only organization calling for Feinstein to step down from her position. The group Demand Justice started a petition drive calling for Feinstein to resign from the committee, stating that the senator’s “behavior during Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings demonstrates that she is only standing in our way of fighting to protect our courts.”
“Sen. Feinstein 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 the petition.
Justice Democrats, which aims to elect progressive candidates to Congress, echoed the calls for Feinstein to depart from the Judiciary Committee, tweeting “Dianne Feinstein must step down.”
Feinstein, who has consistently supported pro-abortion policy in the Senate, opposed Barrett’s nomination since the president announced it, calling it “unprecedented” and criticizing the speed at which it was happening.
“The rush to confirm Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court is unprecedented in my time on the committee,” said Feinstein on October 15.
“The process exists for a reason, so we can adequately question and evaluate a nominee. There’s absolutely no need to jam this nominee through before a consequential election.”
While NARAL says Feinstein has not done enough, the senator has indicated repeatedly that she will not be voting to confirm Barrett to the Supreme Court.