As the nation waits to see who President Trump will name to the U.S. Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there are whispers about whether Sen. Dianne Feinstein — the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee — is the right person to lead the fight against the confirmation.
Feinstein has long been to the right of many California Democrats, and over her decades in public service she's never been a favorite of the progressive wing of the party. In recent years, the 87-year-old senator has angered some for being too collegial and bipartisan at a time when many Democrats are ready to fight.
This week, Politico published a story citing more than a dozen unnamed Democratic sources expressing concern about whether Feinstein is “capable of leading the aggressive effort Democrats need” to fight whomever Trump names.
And while most people are reticent to challenge the powerful senior senator on the record, some progressive leaders in California did speak out this week when Feinstein said she would not support ending the filibuster — the arcane Senate rule that lets the minority party block legislation. Ending the filibuster is a long-term goal of progressive Democrats.
“Filibusters are a relic from the time of segregation,” said San Jose Assemblyman Ash Kalra.
As the first Indian American to serve in the state Legislature, Kalra is emblematic of the new face of the party. He supported former California Senate President Kevin de León in 2016 when the fellow Democrat unsuccessfully challenged Feinstein.
Kalra says it’s important for Democrats to make clear to Republicans that if they push through a nomination before the election — “go nuclear,” as he put it — that all options are on the table.