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Anonymous Democratic Senator Throws Dianne Feinstein Under the Bus Ahead of SCOTUS Hearings: ‘She’s Not Sure What She’s Doing…’

An unnamed Democratic senator sharply criticized Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) ahead of eventual Supreme Court hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, going so far as to say that Feinstein is “not sure what she is doing.”

The criticism, first reported by Politico, may spark some “isn’t that ageism” retorts. Feinstein, at 87, is the oldest member of the Senate. She is the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

The report said that Democrats “privately fear” Feinstein can’t now do what is necessary to achieve meaningful, effective and ultimately successful opposition to the Republican Party’s rapid effort to fill the Supreme Court seat of late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But that’s not all. The reported fear is that Feinstein might do something to jeopardize Democrats’ chances at winning back a Senate majority. An unnamed senator said a faction of Feinstein’s colleagues want someone else to lead the charge against President Donald Trump’s nominee because Feinstein is “not sure what she’s doing.” The handling of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings was cited as an example:

A Democratic senator, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said a group of Feinstein’s colleagues want Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) or Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) to serve as the top Democrat on the Judiciary panel for the upcoming nomination hearings, which are expected to be extraordinarily contentious. This senator is worried that potential missteps by Feinstein could cost Democrats seats.

“She’s not sure what she’s doing,” the Democratic senator said of Feinstein. “If you take a look at Kavanaugh, we may be short two senators because of that. And if this gets [messed] up, it may be the same result.”

If President Trump does, indeed, nominate Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court you can bet that Republicans will argue that anti-Catholic bigotry motivates the Democratic opposition. They may say look no further than the comments Sen. Feinstein made during Barrett’s appellate court confirmation hearing in 2017. Feinstein (D-Calif.) suggested that the then-nominee’s Catholic faith was concerning.

“The dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein said. Here was the full quote:

Why is it that so many of us on this side have this very uncomfortable feeling that dogma and law are two different things, and I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different. And I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern.

This was clearly about Roe v. Wade.

Barrett, a former clerk for Antonin Scalia, said during her confirmation hearing for the Seventh Circuit that she would “never impose my own personal convictions upon the law.” More recently, Barrett’s former colleagues at Notre Dame Law School, where she is an alumna and was a professor, said the jurist currently seen as the SCOTUS frontrunner is no mere ideologue.

“If she’s being considered by a Republican administration, that means they think she’s going to be more conservative,” Notre Dame law professor Paolo Carozza told the South Bend Tribune. “But people are reducing Amy to an ideological category instead of taking her for who she is: An intelligent, thoughtful, open-minded person.”

Stephen Yelderman, another Notre Dame Law School professor, said Barrett is “mind-blowingly intelligent” and “one of the most humble people you’re going to meet.”

“Judge Barrett is the complete package,” he said.

Eleventh Circuit Judge Barbara Lagoa, another SCOTUS possibility, is also a Catholic.

“I suggest that in order to be a good Catholic advocate, one should start with St. Thomas More,” Lagoa said during an Oct. 2019 dinner for the pro-life conservative law firm the Thomas More Society. “It is more than going to Mass every Sunday, and to me at least, it means having a personal relationship with God that in turn informs how we treat others.”

More was executed on July 6, 1535 after he refused to take the Oath of Supremacy, which would have recognized King Henry VIII as the head of the Church in England.

Feinstein responded to Politico’s reporting by saying she was “really surprised and taken aback” by the idea that her colleagues fear she will be a liability.

“Because I try to be very careful and I’m puzzled by it,” Feinstein explained her surprise. “My attendance is good, I do the homework, I try to ask hard questions. I stand up for what I believe in.”

Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Feinstein’s colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee, dismissed concerns about Feinstein. Booker said he was “fully confident in her leadership”; Blumenthal said he sees “no reason to question” Feinstein’s leadership.

[Image via Drew Angerer and Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.