Democrats, Facing Critical Supreme Court Battle, Worry Feinstein Is Not Up to the Task

Most troubling, said Meagan Hatcher-Mays, the director of democracy policy for Indivisible, a liberal grass-roots group, was that Ms. Feinstein “didn’t seem to have control over the situation at all.” But progressives were also angry about her genteel demeanor, an attribute of another era when the Senate was a more respectful, bipartisan place.

“She handled him with kid gloves,” Ms. Hatcher-Mays said. “She was, like, thanking him for being there. You don’t have to do that!”

Progressives worry that conciliatory approach could guide her hand as chairwoman if Democrats win back the Senate and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is in the White House. With a record number of judicial appointments, Mr. Trump has succeeded in significantly pushing the balance of the nation’s courts to the right, and progressives believe realigning them must be a top priority.

“Dianne Feinstein is not somebody who inspires any confidence whatsoever that there will be sufficient attention on an issue that should be a priority of a President Biden,” Mr. Fallon said. “In fact, she will probably be an enabler and an accomplice to the obstruction efforts that created all of these vacancies for Trump to fill in the first place.”

Then there was Judge Barrett’s appeals court confirmation hearing in 2017. Democrats on the judiciary panel were noticeably skeptical of Judge Barrett’s Catholic faith, peppering her with questions about legal writings and personal statements they said raised doubts about her ability to rule objectively.

But it was Ms. Feinstein, who made the most pointed reference to Judge Barrett’s religion, saying, “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 when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country.”

At the time, Republicans, charging religious bias, quickly put the quote on T-shirts and coffee mugs in defiant pride. Democrats groaned.

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