Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) caused an uproar back in 2017 when in judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings for a seat on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, she famously sneered that the “dogma lives loudly within” Barrett, excoriating the judge for her Catholic beliefs.
In Tuesday’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, though, Feinstein was professional — even conciliatory — to Barrett, and her Democratic colleagues noticed, excoriating her, this time, for failing to trap Barrett and mock her ideals.
Feinstein focused on abortion in her line of questioning, demanding that Barrett promise to uphold the landmark Roe v. Wade case if the opportunity to overturn the abortion rights decision ever came before the Supreme Court. Barrett, as with other Senators who focused on the issue, neatly sidestepped the question, telling Feinstein that she would judge any individual case on its merits.
“On something that is a major cause with major effects on over half the population of this country, who are women, it is distressing not to get a straight answer,” Feinstein asked Barrett. “Let me try again: Do you agree with Justice Scalia’s view that it was wrongly decided?”
“Barrett replied that she had ‘no agenda’ but would not answer the question because of her legal position,” the Washington Examiner noted. “Feinstein continued to press her. Barrett eventually said that she would ‘follow the law’ in any abortion case that came before her.”
Feinstein, though, also praised Barrett’s work-life balance.
“You don’t have a magic formula for how you do it and handle all the children and your job and your work and your thought process, which is obviously excellent, do you?” Feinstein said.
Barrett responded that it was “improv.”
Left-leaning Twitter erupted in frustration and anger.
“This is painful,” former Hillary Clinton communications guru Brian Fallon tweeted. “Enough with this nonsense line of questioning premised on the idea that we don’t already know ACB’s views. Feinstein is giving Barrett way more benefit of the doubt than she deserves.”
A reporter with Slate panicked over Feinstein’s “softballs.”
‘Why is Dianne Feinstein tossing softballs to Amy Coney Barrett?” he railed. “Why did she ask a string of questions that Barrett could easily avoid answering? Why is she treating this confirmation process like it’s totally normal and legitimate? Is she trying to help Barrett get confirmed?”
One Dem strategist even went so far as to demand Feinstein be removed from office.
“I get deference to senior party leaders,” he tweeted. “But, not with this, or almost anything at this moment. She’s proven in many ways she’s not up to the moment; doesn’t understand the stakes; and I’m sorry, must be put on the bench for the good of democracy. Like, NOW.”
At one point, after Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) outlined a complicated conspiracy theory about judge Amy Coney Barrett’s connections to the Federalist Society and other “dark money” groups creating a “pipeline” of judges charged with overturning landmark decisions — a shocking and bizarre display that left other Senators scratching their heads, according to The Daily Wire’s earlier reporting — some left-leaning activists seemed defeated, and not just by Feinstein.
“If you’re wondering if Feinstein is bad at this, she is. But it’s important to understand *why* she’s bad. The legal views of Amy Coney Barrett in this hearing are IRRELEVANT,” a writer for The Nation moaned. “ACB is a nominee who shouldn’t be voted on before the election to ice the election to Trump. FULL STOP.”
Barrett’s hearings continue Wednesday and Thursday.