FPI / March 5, 2020
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer faced a torrent of criticism for comments on an abortion case that is before the Supreme Court in which the New York Democrat threatened Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.
During a speech on Wednesday, Schumer warned Gorsuch and Kavanaugh: “Now, we stand here today because behind me, inside the walls of this court, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments, as you know, for the first major abortion right cases since [Justice] Kavanaugh and [Justice] Gorsuch came to the bench. We know what’s at stake. Over the last three years, women’s reproductive rights have come under attack in a way we haven’t seen in modern history. From Louisiana, to Missouri, to Texas, Republican legislatures are waging a war on women, all women, and they’re taking away fundamental rights. I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you, if you go forward with these awful decisions.”
The case is Louisiana's June Medical Services v. Russo, the first major pro-life case before the high court since 2016. It involves a Louisiana law that mandated that abortion providers had to maintain hospital admitting privileges at nearby facilities.
Chief Justice John Roberts issued a stern rebuke of Schumer's threat: "Statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous," Roberts said. "All members of the Court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter."
President Donald Trump tweeted: “This is a direct & dangerous threat to the U.S. Supreme Court by Schumer. If a Republican did this, he or she would be arrested, or impeached. Serious action MUST be taken NOW!”
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri said Wednesday that he would be introducing a motion to censure Schumer for “disgusting, shameful, and frankly, WEAK” comments directed at Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.
“I would call on Schumer to apologize, but we all know he has no shame,” Hawley tweeted. “So tomorrow I will introduce a motion to censure Schumer for his pathetic attempt at intimidation.”
Hawley was correct, Schumer did not apologize.
“For Justice Roberts to follow the right wing’s deliberate misinterpretation of what Senator Schumer said, while remaining silent when President Trump attacked Justices Sotomayor and Ginsberg last week, shows Justice Roberts does not just call balls and strikes,” Schumer spokesman Justin Goodman told The Daily Caller.
Goodman insisted that Schumer was referencing the political price Republicans “will pay for putting them on the court,” and that his remarks were “a warning that the justices will unleash major grassroots movement on the issue of reproductive rights against the decision.”
A statement from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell read: “Contrary to what the Democratic leader has tried to claim, he very clearly was not addressing Republican lawmakers or anybody else. He literally directed the statement to the justices, by name. And he said, quote, ‘if you go forward with these awful decisions,’ which could only apply to the court itself. The minority leader of the United States Senate threatened two associate justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. Period.”
Speaking on the Senate floor on Thursday, Schumer said: "Now I should not have used the words I used. They didn't come out the way I intended to."
Schumer added: "I'm from Brooklyn. We speak in strong language."
McConnell wasn't buying Schumer's explanation, saying that Schumer was trying to "gaslight the entire country" by claiming he was not addressing the justices.
"But if he cannot even admit to saying what he said, we certainly cannot know what he meant," McConnell said. "At the very best his comments were astonishingly reckless and extremely irresponsible.”
The American Bar Association said it was "deeply troubled" by Schumer's remarks.
"Whatever one thinks about the merits of an issue before a court, there is no place for threats — whether real or allegorical," the ABA said in a statement. "Personal attacks on judges by any elected officials, including the President, are simply inappropriate. Such comments challenge the reputation of the third, co-equal branch of our government; the independence of the judiciary; and the personal safety of judicial officers. They are never acceptable."
Free Press International