Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, was widely criticized by liberal groups on Thursday after she gave Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) a hug and called Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearings “one of the best" that she's participated in.

Why it matters: Democrats have cast the Republican effort to confirm Barrett in an election year as "illegitimate," warning that it will shatter norms and transform the court for decades.

  • The 87-year-old Feinstein's amenable approach to the hearing has drawn widespread frustration among liberals who were seeking more aggressive opposition.
  • Some critics pointed out on Twitter that Graham is in a highly competitive re-election race with Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison, and that Feinstein's praise for the top Trump ally could have an impact.

What happened: "Chairman, I just want to thank you," Feinstein said in her closing statement. "This has been one of the best set of hearings that I've participated in and I want to thank you for your fairness and the opportunity of going back and forth."

  • "It leaves one with a lot of hopes, a lot of questions, and even some ideas of perhaps some good bipartisan legislation we can put together to make this country even better. So thank you so much for your leadership."
  • Graham replied: "I know we have very different views about the judge and whether we should be doing this or not. 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."

What they're saying: “It's time for Sen. Feinstein to step down from her leadership position on the Senate Judiciary Committee. If she won't, her colleagues need to intervene," said Brian Fallon, executive director of the judicial advocacy group Demand Justice.

  • "She has undercut Democrats' position at every step of this process, from undermining calls for filibuster and Court reform straight through to thanking Republicans for the most egregious partisan power grab in the modern history of the Supreme Court."
  • "If Senate Democrats are going to get their act together on the courts going forward, they cannot be led by someone who treats Sunrise activists with contempt and the Republican theft of a Supreme Court seat with kid gloves.”

The progressive organizing group Indivisible tweeted: "Nothing says "this process is an illegitimate sham" quite like hugging it out with the guy who's in charge of the illegitimate sham."

  • "Senator Feinstein's behavior today was a perfect summation of why we can't just elect Democrats — we need to hold them accountable too."

The big picture: Feinstein has long been a target of progressive criticism, perhaps most notably when she told children organized by the Sunrise Movement in a viral video last year that the Green New Deal was "impractical."

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Oct 24, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Texas Supreme Court stays order blocking limits on ballot drop-off sites

A sign is seen at drive-through mail ballot drop off site at NRG Stadium in Houston. Photo: Go Nakamura/Getty Images

The Texas Supreme Court on Saturday temporarily stayed an order by the lower court that blocked Gov. Greg Abbott's limits on drop-off locations for mail-in ballots.

Why it matters: The move means voters will continue to be restricted to a single drop-off location per county for now. The state's Supreme Court gave both sides until Monday at 5 p.m. CDT to file responses as it considers whether to take up the issue. By then, there will be just over one week until the election.

Updated 6 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Ex-FDA chief: Pence campaigning after COVID exposure puts others at risk — Mark Meadows: "We are not going to control the pandemic"— COVID-19 looms over White House Halloween celebrations.
  2. Health: 13 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week — Fauci says maybe we should mandate masks if people don't wear themU.S. reports over 80,000 new cases for second consecutive day.
  3. World: Italy tightens restrictions Spain declares new state of emergency.

Amy Coney Barrett's immediate impact

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

In her first week on the job, Amy Coney Barrett may be deciding which votes to count in the presidential election. By her third week, she’ll be deciding the fate of the Affordable Care Act.

Where it stands: The Senate votes on Barrett’s nomination tomorrow. If she’s confirmed, Chief Justice John Roberts is expected to swear her in at the Supreme Court within hours, an administration official tells Axios.