Democrats Furious As Dianne Feinstein Demurs on Packing Supreme Court

Democrats have reacted with anger after Senator Dianne Feinstein failed to embrace the idea of expanding the Supreme Court. In an interview Monday she seemed unaware of calls to add seats to the nine-member High Court.

"I hadn't heard of it before, so let me take a look," Feinstein said. "No one has ever told me that that's a reality right now."

Feinstein was asked about abolishing the filibuster which allows a senator to hold up the passage of legislation by speaking for hours at a time. The California Democrat ruled out getting rid of the filibuster as part of an effort to pack the Supreme Court.

"I don't believe in doing that. I think the filibuster serves a purpose. It is not often used, it's often less used now than when I first came, and I think it's part of the Senate that differentiates itself," Feinstein said.

NBC News national political reporter Sahil Kapur pointed out on Twitter that the use of cloture motions in the Senate has significantly increased since the mid 1990s.

A cloture motion is a Senate rule that allows a filibuster to be broken by limiting further debate to 30 more hours.

Since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, some Democrats and progressives have openly advocated adding more seats to the Supreme Court if President Donald Trump successfully replaces her.

Court packing would require not only a Democratic majority in November's elections but an end to the filibuster. A Republican minority could use the filibuster to block new appointments to the court.

Democrats on social media reacted to Feinstein's comments with anger and dismay. Some suggested it was time for the veteran senator to step down. The 87-year-old was first elected to the Senate in 1992.

"If Diane Feinstein [sic] is this out of touch with her party, she should resign," said Democratic strategist Adam Parkhomenko.

Adam Jentleson, former deputy chief of staff to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, questioned Feinstein's reasoning on the filibuster considering her own experience.

"No idea what Feinstein is talking about here," Jentleson wrote. "She was elected in 1992. In her first two-year session of Congress from 1993-94 there were 80 filibusters. From 2013-14 (Democrats' last two years in the majority) there were 252 filibusters."

"If Democrats are like Feinstein, timid and unwilling to fight, they should be primaried and voted out," said New York Times contributing op-ed writer Wajahat Ali. "We need people who recognize the threat of the ideological extremist minority known as the modern Republican Party and willing to FIGHT for the majority."

Though Feinstein is opposed to ending the filibuster, she has said the vacant Supreme Court seat should be filled by the next president.

Senator Dianne Feinstein at the Judiciary Committee
Ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) attends a Judiciary Committee hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on June 16, 2020 in Washington, D.C. The Republican-led committee was holding its first hearing on policing since the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. Feinstein has ruled out ending the filibuster. Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images