Feinstein announced the news on Monday amid backlash surrounding her handling of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation.
“After serving as the lead Democrat on the Judiciary Committee for four years, I will not seek the chairmanship or ranking member position in the next Congress,” she said. “I look forward to continuing to serve as a senior Democrat on the Judiciary, Intelligence, Appropriations and Rules committees as we work with the Biden administration on priorities like gun safety, immigration reform and addressing inequities in criminal justice. I will continue to do my utmost to bring about positive change in the coming years.”
After the hearings, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he had a “long and serious talk” with Feinstein. Top left-leaning groups — NARAL Pro-Choice America, Demand Justice, and Fix Our Senate, previously demanded her resignation.
“This nomination is illegitimate and this process is a sham,” NARAL President Ilyse Hogue said in a press release mid-October. “Tens of millions of Americans have already voted and majorities have said unequivocally that they want to choose the next President who should fill this seat.”
She added that “Americans — whose lives hang in the balance — deserve leadership that underscores how unprecedented, shameful and wrong this process is.”
“The Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein, failed to make this clear and in fact offered an appearance of credibility to the proceedings that is wildly out of step with the American people. As such, we believe the committee needs new leadership.”
On Monday, Schumer praised his Senate colleague and thanked her for her service.
“I am deeply grateful for Senator Feinstein’s leadership and contributions to our caucus and country as the Ranking Member on the Senate Judiciary Committee over the last four years,” a statement from Schumer read. “As a senior member of the Judiciary, Appropriations, Intelligence, and Rules Committees, I know Senator Feinstein will continue her work as one of the nation’s leading advocates for women’s and voting rights, gun safety reform, civil liberties, health care, and the rights of immigrants who are yearning to become citizens of this great country. Senator Feinstein’s experience, decades-long relationship with President-elect Biden, and leadership on so many issues will continue to be an asset for our caucus, California, and the country as we begin a new term with the new president.”
A Democratic mainstay, Feinstein played a key role in the confirmation process of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. Like Kavanaugh’s, Barrett’s confirmation was also highly contentious as Democrats railed against Republicans for pushing the nomination so close to an election, despite not proceeding with Judge Merrick Garland in 2016.
Feinstein received attention for hugging Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at the conclusion of Barrett’s hearing.
“Mr. Chairman, I just want to thank you,” Feinstein said to Graham as the hearing drew to a close. “This has been one of the best Senate hearings that I’ve participated in, and I want to thank you for your fairness and the opportunity of going back and forth.”
She thanked him for his leadership.
“It leaves one with a lot of hopes, a lot of questions, and even some ideas of good bipartisan legislation we could put together to make this great country even better,” Feinstein said.
“I know we have very different views about the judge and whether we should be doing this or not,” Graham replied. “But having said all that, to my Democratic colleagues, you have challenged the judge, you have challenged us, and I accept those challenges as being sincere and not personal.”
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.