The 89-year-old senator, planning to retire at the end of her current term, has been absent from work since early 2023 as she was hospitalized with shingles. She has missed more than 90 votes in her absence and has given the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee the ability to stall some of President Joe Biden’s court nominees.
The Friday editorial board acknowledged that Feinstein, the oldest Senate member, has had a distinguished career in the upper chamber but said that “if she cannot fulfill her obligations to the Senate and to her constituents, she should resign and turn over her responsibilities to an appointed successor.”
“If she is unable to reach that decision on her own, Mr. Schumer, the majority leader, and other Democratic senators should make it clear to her and the public how important it is that she do so,” the editorial said. “Under the circumstances, Mr. Schumer should turn up the public pressure on her to return or resign, setting aside the antique Senate gentility that can hobble common-sense decision-making there.”
Additionally, the editorial board pointed to a report from last year in the San Francisco Chronicle, her hometown newspaper, that revealed Feinstein’s “memory has so deteriorated that she can no longer fulfill her job duties” and that her colleagues have even acknowledged that she “cannot keep up with conversations … [and] doesn’t seem to fully recognize other senators and relies almost entirely on staff members.”
The editorial board recognized that some of the past calls for her to resign had been called “sexist” but that senators have a “primary and inescapable duty” to show up and vote, which Feinstein has been unable do while she has recovered from shingles.
“Senate seats are not lifetime sinecures, and if members can’t effectively represent their constituents or work for the benefit of their country, they should not hesitate to turn the job over to someone who can. Ms. Feinstein owes California a responsible decision,” the editorial concluded.
On Thursday, before the editorial was published, Feinstein released a statement, giving no indication when she will return to the Senate, defending her absence and claiming there has been “no slowdown” of judicial nominees while she is slowly recovering.