A Threat Is a Threat, Sen. Schumer

March 6, 2020

Arrogant Sen. Chuck Schumer crossed the line in threatening United States Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. His words were shocking, even for him.

I don’t usually get too exercised about political rhetoric, realizing that impassioned politicians regularly engage in hyperbole. But Schumer’s remarks were inexcusable by any standard.

At an abortion rights rally hosted by the deceptively named Center for Reproductive Rights, Schumer said: “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.”

It’s one thing for members of the political branches to criticize judges after they’ve made decisions they disagree with, but to threaten them with consequences in advance of a decision is shocking. If I had hair-trigger sensitivity for impeachable offenses like congressional Democrats, I’d call this a “high crime or misdemeanor.” But I don’t, so I won’t.

After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rebuked Schumer for his intemperate remarks, Schumer sort of apologized — but not really. Not even close, actually. He first counterpunched McConnell, claiming that McConnell made a “glaring omission” in not specifying that Schumer was referring to a case before the court that could impact a woman’s ability to get an abortion.

Come on, Senator. Who would need additional context, given that Schumer was speaking to a pro-abortion mob? Besides, how would adding that fact have mitigated Schumer’s comments? He has no more right to threaten judges over a prospective decision involving the Democrats’ holy sacrament of abortion than he does, say, over a pending immigration case.

Schumer said he shouldn’t have used those words and they didn’t come out as he intended. He wasn’t issuing a threat; he was referring to the political consequences the case could have.

Though Schumer’s spokesman Justin Goodman said Schumer was addressing Republican congressmen when he said a price would be paid, his language was in the second person, a direct warning to two of the justices by name: “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 …”

I count six “yous” in addition to the naming of the justices. Is Schumer saying he meant for the justices to convey his comments to the congressmen? That’s laughable.
“(Y)ou will pay the price” and “you won’t know what hit you” are unambiguous threats, even if metaphorical. But how could these justices pay metaphorically? Was Schumer threatening to impeach them? What for — following the Constitution? At the very least, Schumer was fanning the flames of the abortion throng, and that itself is dangerous, given the left’s penchant for violence these days. There’s no excuse for his comments or doubling down while pretending to apologize.

Schumer’s non-apology makes his original statement worse, not better. It confirms that he thinks it is appropriate to put political pressure on judges in advance of their rulings. It shows that he believes the court should make a political decision in this case, rather than interpret statutes and the Constitution.

Schumer’s lack of repentance appears in his defiant response to the normally mild-mannered Chief Justice Roberts calling his remarks “dangerous.” Schumer shot back, accusing Roberts of bias for not calling out President Donald Trump for criticizing Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg last week. But Trump didn’t threaten the justices. He simply pointed out they were biased against him and that Sotomayor had accused Republican-appointed justices of being biased in favor of Trump.

One fundamental difference between conservatives and progressives is that conservatives, like the framers, believe the judiciary is a nonpolitical branch of government and that courts should interpret laws, not make them. For progressives, everything is political, including the judiciary, and the court should decide cases based on political considerations.

This is all the more reason we should appreciate Trump’s stellar track record in appointing two originalist Supreme Court justices and a host of other originalist appellate and district court judges. Schumer’s misbehavior is a glaring reminder of the importance of defeating the lawless party in November.