Senate Judiciary Democrats unable to subpoena John Roberts because of Dianne Feinstein’s absence
Senator Dianne Feinstein during an event in 2020. (Senate Democrats/Flickr)

Democrats have been debating how to handle Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-California) absence from the Senate Judiciary Committee due to health problems. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-California) has called for Feinstein to resign, noting that President Joe Biden's federal judicial nominations are being held up. But other Democrats want to give Feinstein more time. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) believes that sexism is at work, arguing that older male senators aren't asked to resign when they suffer health problems.

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have been probing allegations of corruption against U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas following ProPublica's bombshell reporting on his relationship with billionaire GOP donor Harlan Crow. ProPublica reported that for over 20 years, Crow has been treating Thomas to luxury vacations — and that Thomas sold property in Georgia to Crow but failed to report it.

On Thursday, April 20, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) was asked if he planned to subpoena Chief Justice John Roberts for Thomas-related testimony. But the Illinois Democrat responded that he couldn't do so because of Feinstein's absence.

READ MORE: Dianne Feinstein faces mounting resignation calls after missing nearly 60 Senate votes

Durbin, according to The Guardian, explained, "It takes a majority. I don't have a majority."

Some Democrats have suggested temporarily replacing Feinstein on the Senate Judiciary Committee until her health improves — a suggestion that Senate Republicans, including Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), have adamantly opposed. Feinstein was recently hospitalized with shingles.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) has called for Thomas to be impeached in light of ProPublica's reporting as well as efforts by far-right activist Ginni Thomas, the justice's wife, to have the 2020 presidential election results overturned. Ginni Thomas has falsely claimed that the election was stolen from Trump — a conspiracy theory that has been repeatedly debunked.