The death of Senator and WWII hero Daniel Inouye will shake up the Senate committee chairmanships. Inouye, as the most senior member of the majority party, had been chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee. That spot might now be filled by Senator Patrick Leahy, currently chairman of the Judiciary Committee, so reports Roll Call. If that happens, the new Chairman at Judiciary would be the senior Democrat, Senator Diane Feinstein of California. (Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin is currently next in line to Leahy, but Kohl decided not to seek re-election).
This will be a welcome change. Leahy is an outspoken liberal and a dead-end partisan. For example, while both he and Ms. Feinstein voted against the confirmation of Justice Alito (as did the hefty majority of Democrats), Leahy voted to filibuster the nomination while Ms. Feinstein voted to invoke cloture.
In addition, Leahy supports a nationwide moratorium on the death penalty; Feinstien does not, and has spoken publicly in support of the view that the death penalty is a deterrent. She also voted against allowing the use of racial statistics in death penalty appeals. Feinstein is said to have a good relationship with Senator Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee.