California Sen. Dianne Feinstein's monthslong absence from the Senate, and the mounting pressure from within her party to resign, raises the specter of the political conversations around Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Feinstein, who at 89 is the oldest member of Congress, was hospitalized with shingles in February and since then hasn't returned to Washington.
As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Feinstein's absence has stalled President Joe Biden's nominees as the administration looks to reshape the judiciary.
With only vague guidance about her possible return, some Democrats have called for her to retire.
"We need to put country ahead of personal loyalty. While she has had a lifetime of public service, it is obvious she can no longer fulfill her duties," her fellow California Democrat, Rep. Ro Khanna, tweeted.
She has resisted those calls.
"I intend to return as soon as possible once my medical team advises that it's safe for me to travel," Feinstein said in a statement earlier this month. "In the meantime, I remain committed to the job and will continue to work from home in San Francisco."
Looking back to President Barack Obama's second term, Ginsburg was in her 80s and had already had a bout with cancer. Calls for Ginsburg to retire were aimed at allowing Obama to pick her successor, a means of both maintaining a liberal seat on the nation's highest court and a perceived safeguard for Roe v. Wade.
She, too, resisted.
"I think one should stay as long as she can do the job," Ginsburg said in 2013 when asked whether justices plan their retirements so a president of the same party as the one who appointed them can select a replacement.
Similarly, both women have occupied positions considered critical to progress on the Democratic agenda at politically precarious times. Ginsburg's resistance, coupled with the GOP blocking Merrick Garland, arguably cleared the way to Roe being overruled.
Feinstein's resistance could stand in the way of judges Democrats hope will defend what's left of reproductive rights from attacks by the political right.
Despite the implications for his administration's judicial efforts, Biden's White House has kept its distance.
"This is a decision for her to make when it comes to her future," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday.
Many other Democratic lawmakers have come to Feinstein's defense.
"It's her right -- she's been voted by her state to be senator for six years. She has the right in my opinion to decide when she steps down," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., told CNN.
In the current deeply divided Congress, Senate Republicans, unsurprisingly, did not cooperate with Democrats' proposed fix -- a temporary replacement for Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee.
"Let's be clear," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said on the chamber floor. "Senate Republicans will not take part in sidelining a temporarily absent colleague off a committee just so Democrats can force through their very worst nominees."
A path forward for Democrats remains as unclear as a timeline for Feinstein's Senate return.