Senate Judiciary Committee member Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenate panel punts Mueller protection bill to next week Steyer endorses de León in bid to unseat Feinstein Amid struggle for votes, GOP plows ahead with Cabinet picks MORE (D-Calif.) strongly defended President Barack Obama's recent, controversial comment that he wanted a Supreme Court nominee with "empathy," saying that Republican critics are deriding a quality most Americans prefer and are only searching for a distraction.

"Empathy is something that most people would like to see in their judges, their doctors, their public officials, in press, and virtually everywhere," Feinstein said.

"Turning it into something that is inherently evil is, I think, a real misinterpretation of what people want," she added. "To me, it's so startling, and it indicates that jurists should only be umpires and count balls and strikes. If that's all it is, you could set up a computer and you wouldn't need a judge... These things are used to move away or create some sense of moral outrage."

-J. Taylor Rushing