Feinstein’s Lost Clout Over Kavanaugh, Now Powerless on Judicial Appointments in Senate

Dianne Feinstein in Outer Space

For decades Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein of California has had powerful and even unusual influence on judiciary nominations in California for District Court, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and even appointments of US attorneys across the state.

Yet a recent action by the Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee and a Senate vote on fifteen new nominees, makes it clear that Feinstein has totally and completely lost her ability to influence judicial appointments in the state, and it is all because of her shabby performance in the nomination, and attempt to delay the nomination, of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court, coupled with a touch of betrayal from her own party leader in the Senate.

Under Democratic Presidents Clinton and Obama, Feinstein always had an important role in who was ultimately appointed to a Federal judiciary position in California. As a California Senator and top ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, Feinstein was able to wield the mighty “blue slip,” a Senate custom, which gave her a practical veto on many Presidential nominations in the state. Even when Republican George W. Bush was President, Feinstein took on an outsized power to review, reject and approve Bush appointees in California, even before they got to the Senate floor, through a controversial judicial “commission” setup up during Bush’s term.  The result was Bush was forced to compromise again and again on California judicial appointments, and was only able to appoint and confirm a handful of solidly conservative judges in California during his eight years as President.

The power Feinstein had on these appointments for three decades has surely helped make the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unquestionably the most liberal circuit court in the nation. Up until last week, only six of twenty-nine appointees on that Court were Republicans. Yet now, Feinstein’s reign in liberalizing California Federal appointments is over. And it appears the Senator Democratic leader Chuck Schumer may have helped Senate Republicans to cut Feinstein’s influence as well.

This is because last week, after the Kavanaugh confirmation was behind them, the Senate quietly confirmed fifteen additional Trump Administration judicial appointments, including Republican Ryan Nelson to the Ninth Circuit. Further, last week the Judiciary Committee approved two more Trump Administration Ninth Circuit nominees, (one of whom, Patrick Bumatay, is not only a Republican, but will be the first openly gay judge to ever serve on the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco) who will surely be confirmed by the full Senate after the November election. All three of these nominees were actively opposed by Feinstein and subject to her “blue slip” opposition. Schumer made a deal with Senate Republicans, despite Feinstein’s opposition, and according to news reports, what he got were two lower court nominees for East Coast courts who had been initially appointed by Obama but never confirmed. Thirteen out of fifteen was a pretty good deal for Senate Republicans to get quick approval now, and in the coming “lame duck” Senate, such a deal won’t be necessary because of Republican control. Thus, we can expect three new Republican members on the Ninth Circuit by the end of this year, all over Feinstein’s now powerless objections.

Feinstein had tried to make a last minute offer to the Trump Administration by publicly stating last week she would agree to seating Orange County Superior Court Judge and former Clinton-impeachment House Manager Jim Rogan to the Ninth Circuit, in return for also seating Nancy Koh, a Bay Area district court judge who had been nominated by Obama for the Ninth Circuit but whose nomination stalled in the Republican Senate. It appears that Senate Republicans and the Trump Administration didn’t think Rogan, a favorite of former “Never Trump” Republicans in California, or making a deal with Feinstein, who had held back Christy Blasey Ford’s letter against Brett Kavanaugh until the last minute and which was disclosed without Ford’s approval, was worth it. The result is that Feinstein was totally and completely cut out of the recent successful action moving three new Republicans forward to help remake the liberal Ninth Circuit, and that Feinstein was undercut by her own Senate leader in that process. Senate Republicans are still fuming over Feinstein’s role in attempting to derail that Kavanaugh confirmation, and their recent actions prove it. With Republicans looking to continue and perhaps even increase their control of the Senate as a result of the upcoming midterm elections, Ranking Member Feinstein’s influence on the Federal judiciary nationwide and especially in California appear deader than a doornail.


  1. Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein invented SANCTUARY CITIES — in 1985 — when she was the Mayor of San Francisco, California. Since that time, illegal aliens have made a beeline for those cities because they can live there and never be reported to immigration agents (federal) because Democrat Politicians have ordered city employees to not report them. In addition those (sanctuary city) Democrat politicians provide full living expenses to the illegals and the illegals vote for the Democrats on election day. This “votes for Welfare” skeme has been run by Democrats since 1985 has helped Democrats win elections. The Taxpayer pays for all the government benefits and the Democrats get the votes. It is a criminal racquet, and there are now laws to stop it. That is why the Democrat Party does not want to build a border wall. Indeed, they want to throw open the gates to the criminal INVADER MIGRANTS who are parasites living off the government.

  2. Feinstein needs to be investigated for the cozy 20 yr. relationship she had with a Chinese spy here in America.

    • The Captive says

      Well just add to that her nepotism . Granting big money jobs to her husband’s company. Lock her in SF a stinker of a Sanctuary city and see if she will get one of the many diseases caused by FILTHY CONDITIONS.

  3. And when many of CA’s remaining GOP voters desert her in Nov. for her Kavanaugh perfidy, and vote for Al Leon, she’ll be out on her ear.

  4. Anyone who would vote for De Leon is an idiot . Why would anyone vote for someone KNOWN to be LEFT OF FEINSTEIN ? Vote Feinstein and then let the Trump administration fire her and put in a Republican to replace her. Don’t be fooled into believing that de leon is any kind of reasonable choice it’s more of the kind of thinking that got California into the position we are in now.
    Beware of frauds who pretend to be conservative and try to convince you to lead yourself and your country into communism.
    This one is most certainly for you askeptic . I consider you a moron and what is wrong with this state.

    • Governors appoint Senators…go Cox!

    • Actually, Damocles, voting for de Leon (I can’t believe I’m saying this) makes a certain amount of sense. There is little political difference between DiFi and de Leon – the difference between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. If DiFi is defeated she and her considerable experience and power will be replaced by a junior back-bencher who is so far left that the only one who would support his legislation would be Commie LaHarris.

  5. Vote for Feinstein, she’s got her age working against her and might not complete her term and if Cox becomes Governor he can move a republican into her spot. DeLeon is a disaster for this state, don’t vote for him!!!!

  6. She is.the homless problem

  7. Our “wanna-be”communist Senator has lost her magic touch? Better late than never.

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