Radio Free never takes money from corporate interests, which ensures our publications are in the interest of people, not profits. Radio Free provides free and open-source tools and resources for anyone to use to help better inform their communities. Learn more and get involved at

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday night rejected claims that Sen. Dianne Feinstein is being targeted by "anti-feminist" attacks as calls mount for the 89-year-old lawmaker's retirement.

On the social media platform Bluesky, the New York Democrat said Feinstein (D-Calif.) "is causing great harm to the judiciary" with her prolonged absence from the Senate due to her recovery from shingles. Feinstein, who sits on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, has not been present since late February.

Her absence leaves Democrats without a majority on the panel, and therefore unable to advance President Joe Biden's judicial nominees without the support of Republicans.

Ocasio-Cortez noted that Feinstein's indefinite absence has come as right-wing federal courts are gutting reproductive rights. As of last month, there were 18 judicial nominees for circuit and district courts pending in the Senate.

Feinstein asked in April that she be temporarily replaced on the Judiciary Committee, as calls for her resignation intensified among Democratic lawmakers.

The request required unanimous consent from the Senate, and was denied after Republicans including Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) refused to support removing Feinstein from the Judiciary Committee. Collins suggested she was doing so out of respect for the senator, who has served for more than 30 years.

But by keeping Feinstein tied to the committee in her absence, Collins made it less likely that judges who oppose forced pregnancy will be able to be confirmed and help to secure abortion rights—which both senators say they support and which Feinstein has counted among her signature issues.

Feinstein's absence has also left committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) without the power to subpoena Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts regarding questions about ethics on the court in the wake of revelations about the financial ties of right-wing Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has suggested that advocates and lawmakers who have called on Feinstein to step down are being sexist and applying a double standard, saying "I've never seen them go after a man who was sick in the Senate in that way."

The idea that calls for Feinstein to resign are anti-feminist, said Ocasio-Cortez on Monday, "are a farce," considering that proponents of her early retirement are seeking to protect the rights of women and LGBTQ+ people across the U.S. through the judiciary.

Feinstein has said she will not seek reelection next year and plans to leave the Senate when her current term ends in January 2025. She has faced questions about her health for cognitive health in recent years, before her bout with shingles.

U.S. Reps. Katie Porter, Barbara Lee, and Adam Schiff have all launched campaigns to replace the senator.

This content originally appeared on Common Dreams and was authored by Julia Conley.


[1] alexandria ocasio cortez News and Opinion | Common Dreams ➤[2] AOC says Feinstein should resign, won’t primary Gillibrand in 2024 | CNN Politics ➤[3] ➤[4] Susan Collins Helps Sink Hopes of Replacing Dianne Feinstein on Judiciary Committee | Common Dreams ➤[5] Facing Pressure to Resign, Feinstein Asks Senate to Replace Her on Judiciary Panel | Common Dreams ➤[6] Susan Collins Helps Sink Hopes of Replacing Dianne Feinstein on Judiciary Committee | Common Dreams ➤[7] Critics Say New Revelations in Judicial Record Bolster Case for Thomas Impeachment | Common Dreams ➤[8][9] Pledging to 'Stand Up to Special Interests,' Katie Porter Announces Senate Bid | Common Dreams ➤[10] Barbara Lee Officially Announces Senate Run, Vowing to 'Stand on the Side of Justice' | Common Dreams ➤