Schumer Should Apologize – Sincerely This Time – for Supreme Court Tirade


“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.” Thus did Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) address a crowd in front of the Supreme Court Wednesday morning. It was impossible to miss the implication that Schumer was menacing two Supreme Court justices by name with unpleasant if vague consequences, leading Chief Justice John Roberts to issue a rare public rebuke:

Justices know that criticism comes with the territory, but threatening statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous. All members of the court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.

Schumer, through his office, at first dug in. He claimed he had meant his harsh words only for fellow senators, a claim belied by his having addressed Gorsuch and Kavanaugh by name. He went on to attack Roberts for supposedly following a “deliberate misrepresentation of what Sen. Schumer said,” and also for failing to call out President Donald Trump for wrongful comments about judges — although in fact the chief justice had done just that a bit over a year ago, in a highly publicized exchange over the President’s disparagement of an “Obama judge” who’d ruled against him.

Defenders of Schumer assailed the chief justice for not having weighed on some other inappropriate Trump sallies, including his ill-grounded speculation recently (never filed as an actual motion) that Justices Ruth Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor should recuse themselves from Trump matters, and his aspersions on the judge in the Roger Stone case. Those are part of a frequent and blatant Trump habit of trash-talking judges, both as a candidate (calling the judge in the Trump University case “Mexican” and “a hater”) and as President (“so-called judge” among numerous others). Some — I’m one — would say that this is amongTrump’s very worst and most damaging patterns of behavior.

But as cooler heads noted, including Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post, the chief justice is not a playground proctor who can step in to write up every demerit; he needs to save his efforts for the instances that are most dangerous, as he in fact has done.

The wider picture, it might be noted, is one in which nasty swipes at judges have been routinized for years, from a range of public figures and also from former President Barack Obama, both in his 2010 State of the Union speech and also repeatedly during the court review of ObamaCare. Still, none of these have gone as far to suggest personal threat as did Schumer — not even the extraordinarily inappropriate amicus brief filed by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and four other Senate Democrats last August, assailing the Court’s legitimacy and warning that “restructuring” at the hands of political branches lies ahead if it does not mend its ways.

By Thursday, Schumer had revised and extended his remarks, asserting that he “should not have used the words I used. …in no way was I making a threat.” He suggested that he had meant only to call the Justices’ attention to the prospect of damage to their political authority and standing in public opinion. He did not apologize, however, either for the original remarks or for his attacks on the good faith of Roberts and others.

Reason columnist Jacob Sullum recalls the words of Neil Gorsuch in comments before his high court confirmation. “I know the men and women of the federal judiciary,” Gorsuch said. “I know how hard their job is, how much they often give up to do it, the difficult circumstances in which they do it…I know these people, how decent they are, and when anyone criticizes the honesty or integrity or the motives of a federal judge, I find that disheartening, I find that demoralizing, because I know the truth.”

And Sullum writes:

If you believe that is a bunch of self-serving claptrap, that Trump is right when he suggests that judges (when they disagree with him, at least) are doing nothing more than following their own political prejudices, then you believe an independent judiciary is an illusion. If judges are simply politicians in robes, if they cannot be expected to set aside their personal preferences when they decide cases, that whole branch of government, which plays a vital role in upholding the rule of law, protecting people’s rights, and preventing the government from exceeding its constitutional limits, is fundamentally illegitimate.”

Better for good people of all parties to rally behind the principles of an independent judiciary. There’s still time.

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  1. JamesSalerno Inactive

    Judges are appointed for life because unlike other offices, they are not under political pressure to keep their spots or win reelection. Schumer is absolute garbage.

    • #1
  2. RightAngles Member

    The Left in this country, especially the ones in Schumer’s age group, still act like it’s 1968 and they’re hippies “speaking truth to power” or “Stickin’ It to The Man,” as if they’re the struggling counter culture. But now that the Left IS  “the Man” and controls every aspect of our culture, that kind of talk takes on more ominous significance.

    From Maxine Waters exhorting her constituents to confront and harass us everywhere we try to go in our daily lives to the irresponsible rhetoric of Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, they’re promulgating a mindset that anything they do to us is not only okay, but admirable. I mean when your opponents are Nazis and their leader is the actual Hitler, what wouldn’t you do? What wouldn’t be well within your boundaries?  And now we have Chuck Schumer, a well known, longstanding member of Congress, saying what he said yesterday, adding to their acolytes’ idea that violence against anyone with a different opinion is sanctioned. I’ve seen commenters over on Reddit calling for Trump supporters to be “executed in the public square” or having our throats slit. This is what they’re fomenting. Imagine their reaction if any of us had said what they say every single day. Imagine if one of us had shot a Democrat senator at a baseball game.

    • #2
  3. EJHill Podcaster

    There’s one problem with the theory of a non-political independent judiciary and that’s the question of how many justices get on the radar for appointments in the first place. The CJ worked in the White House, as did Elena Kagan and Brett Kavanaugh. Clarence Thomas was a assistant cabinet secretary. Steven Breyer was Chief Counsel of a Senate committee under Ted Kennedy. You can’t be immersed in the centers of politics and then suddenly claim to have been baptized in the holy waters of independence. 

    • #3
  4. Seawriter Contributor

    EJHill (View Comment):
    You can’t be immersed in the centers of politics and then suddenly claim to have been baptized in the holy waters of independence. 

    Sure you can. And with enough years immersed in the center of politics you can even do it with a straight face. After all, once you can fake sincerity, you have it made.

    • #4
  5. Jon1979 Inactive

    Just imagine the anarchy that would ensue if you had a 5-4 court in 2021 with a President Biden, and someone listening to Chuck Schumer, as James Hodgkinson listened to the rantings of other on the left three years ago,  decided to take-out one or two of the conservative Justices in order to give the Democrats a chance to get back into the majority via a couple of immediate Biden court nominations.

    That’s what Roberts was concerned about with Schumer’s rhetoric on abortion, and as McConnell noted in his floor speech, it’s only a partial hypothetical because Steve Scalise almost died as the result of Hodgkinson’s attack, which was fueled by his hatred of Republicans coming out of the 2016 election. Schumer seems to think the ends (of intimidating at least one member of the court’s conservative wing to uphold Roe) justify the means here, but even Ruth Marcus and Lawrence Tribe get what the unspoken end result of his comments could mean, which is why they agreed with Roberts here, and why Schumer was finally forced to issue his apology, even though it’s obvious he still thinks he did nothing wrong.

    • #5
  6. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt

    Why should he apologize?  Do you think he did not mean what he said?  

    No, he meant exactly what he said and meant it exactly as he said it.  If the SCOTUS judges cross the Dems then it is open market on them and their families.  MSM, CIA, FBI, Antifa and anybody else will take them and theirs out.   

    • #6
  7. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Why should he apologize? Do you think he did not mean what he said?

    No, he meant exactly what he said and meant it exactly as he said it. If the SCOTUS judges cross the Dems then it is open market on them and their families. MSM, CIA, FBI, Antifa and anybody else will take them and theirs out.

    I agree. I would not believe any purported “apology” from Sen. Schumer because I think he was saying what he believes.

    What he said is still wrong. He should be punished, certainly by the Senate, and perhaps also by being arrested for inciting violence against specific people.

    • #7
  8. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins

    I am pleased to see Trump critics coming down on Schumer.  See George Conway’s oped in WaPo.  

    • #8
  9. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Better for good people of all parties to rally behind the principles of an independent judiciary. There’s still time.

    Better for Chief Justice Roberts to lead the way in cleaning up the judiciary, which is undeniably politicized. Has openly assumed such since at least Robert Bork was turned into a verb. “High tech lynching?” Happened because judges can be relied upon to see the law and act within their ideology. “Nation-wide injunctions?” 

    President Trump’s appointments, across the country, are expected to yield a change in direction of the courts. He claims that the direction he seeks is that they be real umpires, balls and strikes, not rigging the game. The left howls, because it assumes just such a position protects a fundamentally rotten, born in bigotry and oppression, system. So long as the left expects to use the courts to impose sexual moral preferences on fly-over country, the courts will never be allowed to be fully independent, as in above effective criticism.

    • #9
  10. OccupantCDN Coolidge

    Gun Owners of America have sent a letter and “red flag” order application to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo requesting a Temporary Extreme Risk Protection Order for the Senator.

    It should be interesting to see if a judge will simply dismiss this as unfounded, ruling that Schumer’s public statement was mere political hyperbole. Even after the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court has called Schumer’s statement was “threatening” and “dangerous.”

    It might be hard for even a New York judge to conclude that Schumer’s tirade wasn’t an actual threat when the Chief Justice and a top lefty law prof have acknowledged that’s exactly what it was.

    How great would that be?

    Article is here:

    Gun Owners of America Article

    I saw the article linked on Instapundit’s website.

    • #10
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