Bench Memos

More Fury at Feinstein

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on liberal organizations’ ire over Senator Feinstein’s vote for Leslie Southwick.

“This was a test of whether Democrats were up to the task of applying scrutiny to Bush’s judicial nominees,” Nan Aron, president of Alliance for Justice, an association of civil rights, consumer advocates and other liberal groups, said Friday in criticizing Feinstein’s vote on Leslie Southwick’s nomination to a federal appeals court.

Gays and lesbians in California “are not going to be silent about this,” added Becky Dansky of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, who said Feinstein had usually been a reliable ally. Feinstein said she respected her critics but disagreed with them about Southwick. . . . .

Her vote was condemned by some of her usual allies, including many members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who held a news conference Thursday evening. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, warned of possible political consequences for Feinstein, who was elected to a third six-year term last year. . . .

If Feinstein “continues to relate to this caucus in the way she’s been doing … we will have no alternative but to not only share this information, but to fight against her coming back to the United States Senate,” Waters said.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, also at the news conference, said she was “doubly disappointed that a senator from my home state, Sen. Feinstein, would vote with the Republicans to bring the Southwick nomination to the Senate floor.”

The nomination is likely to pick up enough Democratic support to win Senate confirmation in the fall, despite a plea for a filibuster from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. The organization’s vice president and policy director, Nancy Zirkin, said Friday she was “stunned and amazed” by Feinstein’s vote.


Jonathan H. Adler — Jonathan H. Adler teaches courses in environmental, administrative, and constitutional law at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

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