WASHINGTON, D.C. (KPIX 5) — U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, faced calls to resign over her handling of Amy Coney Barrett’s U.S. Supreme Court nomination hearing, which increased Thursday after she praised and embraced her Republican counterpart, U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham.
The backlash continued Friday as the head of a major pro-choice organization called on Feinstein to step down as co=-chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The senior senator from California praised the the actions of the Republicans on the committee at the end of Barrett’s controversial hearing.
“This has been one of the best set of hearings that I’ve ever participated in, and I want to thank you for your fairness,” Feinstein said, directing her comments at Sen. Graham, who is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Immediately after the proceedings, Feinstein went on to embrace Graham with a hug. Neither were wearing masks at the time.
The social media reaction was swift and angry. Some commented on Twitter, using the hashtag #FeinsteinBetrayal.
A progressive group called Demand Justice started a petition, demanding Feinstein step down from her place as top democrat on the judiciary committee.
On Friday afternoon, Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice for America, released a statement that called the hearing “a sham” and demanded Feinstein to step down as chairman.
“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,” Hogue wrote.
The backlash from the progressive wing of the party is a reflection of the emotions of the times, KPIX political analyst Paul Henderson said.
“To see these leaders engage civilly was not received well universally,” said Henderson.
Many progressives are frustrated, not just about the way the hearings are being rushed but also there are strong feelings against the president who nominated Barrett to the Supreme Court, Henderson explained.
“These independent advocacy groups are frustrated about the act of civility because to them, it reflected a sign of weakness and a sign that the party, and this leader in particular, would not be reflective of their agenda,” said Henderson.
For her part, Feinstein has known Graham for decades and Henderson said her cordiality may be a recognition that she will likely have to work together with him on future legislation.
“She is not one to hold her tongue. But she is also someone that has worked with these folks as her peers, for a number of years and just because they’re her peers does not mean that it’s not an adversarial engagement that she is involved with,” Henderson said.
Senator Feinstein did not directly address the hubbub, but in a statement, she said she wanted to make it clear that because senate republicans are in power, there was only so much democrats like herself could do in the hearings.
“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,” Sen. Feinstein said in a statement. “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.”
The statement continued: “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. I plan to vote no on confirmation of this nominee.”