Feinstein Steps Down from Judiciary

The inevitable next shoe has dropped.

A follow-up to yesterday’s post, “Dianne Feinstein is MIA.”

NYT (“Feinstein, Under Pressure to Resign, Asks to Step Down From Judiciary Panel“):

Senator Dianne Feinstein on Wednesday pushed back on calls for her resignation but asked to step away from the Judiciary Committee indefinitely while recovering from shingles, responding to mounting pressure from Democrats who have publicly vented concerns that she is unable to perform her job.

Ms. Feinstein, an 89-year-old California Democrat, has been away from the Senate since February, when she was diagnosed with the infection. Her absence has become a problem for Senate Democrats, limiting their ability to move forward with judicial nominations. In recent days, as it became clear she was not planning to return after a two-week recess, pressure began to increase for Ms. Feinstein to resign.

On Wednesday night, she said she would not do so, but offered a stopgap solution, saying she would request a temporary replacement on the panel.

“I understand that my absence could delay the important work of the Judiciary Committee,” Ms. Feinstein said in a statement on Wednesday night, after two House Democrats publicly called on her to leave the Senate. “So I’ve asked Leader Schumer to ask the Senate to allow another Democratic senator to temporarily serve until I’m able to resume my committee work.”

In a statement, a spokesman for Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said that Mr. Schumer would make that request of the Senate next week.

At this point, it’s reasonable to question whether Feinstein actually made the statement or, indeed, is even aware that she has asked to step down. Were I to hazard a guess, her chief of staff did so under pressure. Regardless, it had to be done.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Charley in Cleveland says:

    Time for age limits? For every person who stays mentally sharp into their 80s there are twenty who will show cognitive regression, and those 20 have no business representing thousands, much less millions, of citizens in Congress. I can think of 49 Senators who will definitely tell Schumer he cannot do a temporary replacement on the judiciary committee, and there are two more whose names rhyme with mansion and cinema who will likely agree with the 49. No half steps allowed, Ms. Feinstein….it’s time to go.

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  2. Scott says:

    As Feinstein withdraws, the Democrats should be praising and feting Feinstein. Pull, don’t push. Make the exit generous and graceful. Pretty sure that is what Schumer in his schmoozy way is doing.

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  3. MarkedMan says:

    People are complicated. The very things that many admired about Feinstein – her determination, her toughness, how she absolutely won’t let anyone push her around – are now exactly the things that are causing everyone to view her negatively. As James said, it is unclear how aware she is of her own situation, but I bet that fighting spirit still lingers.

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  4. BugManDan says:

    @Charley in Cleveland:

    Time for age limits?

    The problem with age/term limits is that the people of the district obviously still want that person as a representative.

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  5. Argon says:

    At this point, it’s reasonable to question whether Feinstein actually made the statement or, indeed, is even aware that she has asked to step down. Were I to hazard a guess, her chief of staff did so under pressure.

    Unless her Chief of Staff had her power of attorney or preauthorization to speak on her behalf, I wonder if that would be legal?

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  6. DK says:

    @Charley in Cleveland:

    Time for age limits?

    Our “limits” are the congressional elections we have every two years.

    And is McConnell back on the job from his fall yet?

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  7. Mister Bluster says:

    @Charley in Cleveland:..For every person who stays mentally sharp into their 80s there are twenty who will show cognitive regression,..

    I am 75 and in reasonably good physical and mental condition. The only daily medication I take is over the counter store brand omeprazole for acid reflux. If I make it to 80 I hope to be the 1 and not the 20.
    What is your source for these numbers?

  8. Scott says:

    @Mister Bluster: At 69, I am still pretty sharp. However, my mom had dementia as did her mother. My 23 and me test shows I have two APOE e4 alleles predicting a 50% chance of late-onset dementia by age 85. Lucky me.

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  9. Mister Bluster says:

    Legislative Term Limits
    15 of our United States have legislative term limits.
    AR AZ CA CO FL LA ME MI MO MT NE NV OH OK SD.
    If anyone can demonstrate that legislation passed through these chambers is somehow wiser or more efficient than bills passed in the 35 other non term limited States I will consider that term limits may be useful at the Federal level.
    —–
    As a point of information it is here noted:
    The following six state legislatures have had their term limits nullified:
    Idaho Legislature: the Legislature repealed its own term limits in 2002.
    Massachusetts General Court: the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court overturned term limits in 1997.
    Oregon Legislative Assembly: the Oregon Supreme Court ruled term limits unconstitutional in 2002. See term limits in Oregon.
    Utah State Legislature: the Legislature repealed its own term limits in 2003.
    Washington State Legislature: the Washington Supreme Court voided term limits in 1998.
    Wyoming Legislature: the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled term limits unconstitutional in 2004. See term limits in Wyoming.
    WikiP

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  10. Kathy says:

    Commercial pilots face mandatory retirement at age 65. Some countries are talking about extending that to 67, partly due to the ongoing pilot shortage.

    But it’s not that simple. Pilots also face an annual medical review up to age 60. Between 60 and 65, the review is twice a year. So they can be grounded earlier if there is cause for it.

    I don’t see anything similar, complete with cognition testing, applied to legislators and jurists at age, say 75. Not in the immediate future.

  11. Just nutha says:

    We’re boomers. We don’t quit. We don’t retire. And we’d rather be in charge of the burning rubble that was once the US than give anyone else a turn.

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  12. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @DK, @ BugManDan: If we’re going to fall back to relying on the wisdom of the voters then there is no more reason for age minimums than there is for age limits. One is just more traditional than the other.

  13. Michael Cain says:

    @Just nutha:

    We’re boomers. We don’t quit. We don’t retire. And we’d rather be in charge of the burning rubble that was once the US than give anyone else a turn.

    Feinstein’s not a Boomer. Pelosi’s not a Boomer. Jeffries is not a Boomer. For the most part, Dem Congressional leadership is skipping the Boomers. Biden’s not a Boomer. Bill Clinton was barely a Boomer on the early end, and Obama barely a Boomer on the late end. It is now unlikely that there will ever be a President who was born in the 1950s, the heart of the Boomer generation. The Boomers get a lot of blame, but haven’t really been in charge at that level.

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  14. DK says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican: I said we have elections, implying that if we want younger (or better) representation, we should vote for such. I didn’t say anything about American voters being wise.

    Elections has consequences. So does the stupidity, bigotry, and selfishness of the American people.

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  15. DK says:

    @Michael Cain:

    The Boomers get a lot of blame, but haven’t really been in charge at that level.

    Whither Bush and Trump, arguably the two most destructive presidents of recent memory?

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  16. Jay L Gischer says:

    @DK: Like Bill Clinton, both of them were born in 1946. So, that fits with Michael Cain’s characterization pretty much perfectly – they were on the very fringe of the Baby Boom, not in its heart.

    We’ve never had a president born in the 50’s.

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  17. Raoul says:

    Not so fast, reports are that Republicans are objecting to the committee reassignment. Without their assent, the Dems cannot change a committee composition in the middle of a congressional term. It may be that either DiFi steps down altogether or we won’t get any more judges.

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  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Cain:

    It is now unlikely that there will ever be a President who was born in the 1950s, the heart of the Boomer generation.

    That may well be the only good thing that society has ever had happen as relates to boomers. But I would note that late silents–which would include all of your examples–probably have very similar outlooks to those of us in what you called “the heart” of the boomer generation. We were all born into a society where the world was our oyster and both cohorts have been reluctant to get the fuck off the stage moreso than their predecessors. I stand by my statement and will add “silents and” if you would like me to.

  19. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I think there’s a big difference between the “silents” and people like me – born on the downslope of the Baby Boom.

    With the Silents, their careers, almost whatever they were, benefited from the surging population of people younger than them. Those kids needed teachers, and hairdressers, and food service workers, and lawyers and whatever. It was a great time to enter the job market, especially for professionals.

    In some ways those of us born in the 50’s had it easy, but not in this way. Especially if you were born after 1955 or so, where the boom peaked. Demographics did not work in your favor any more, they worked against you, career wise.

    And the boomers who were factory workers got it even worse as manufacturing fled the country. This wasn’t really anybody’s fault, per se, but it was a big problem…

    I mean, sure, every store or restaurant I ever went into was playing music from my young adult years for a while there. That’s nice, but it doesn’t really make up for competing with 300 other people for that teaching position at a college. Silents didn’t face that.

    This “boomers ruined everything” stuff is a giant wedge issue intended to stir up trouble between the generations, particularly Democrats and liberals. Take care…

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  20. grumpy realist says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Also there’s a great cultural difference between the mid-peak Boomers and those of us who came at the end, like myself. Our older brothers and sisters were the ones out there going to Woodstock, rebelling and having sex, so our parents clamped down even more on us, the younger brothers and sisters.

    One reason why we’ve remained in the shadows while our older siblings got all the attention.

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  21. Ken_L says:

    @Raoul: Another idiotic Senate rule. They seem to devote considerable time and ingenuity to adopting rules which make it practically impossible to accomplish anything efficiently. I can’t think of any reason why parties should not appoint whomever they want to committees and change them any time they feel like it.

  22. DK says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    they were on the very fringe of the Baby Boom, not in its heart.

    A distinction without difference.