At the end of last year, the Senate passed a bill that suddenly feels very ironic: the Security for Supreme Court Justices Act. With the country so divided, both parties seemed concerned the justices didn’t have enough protection. Four months later, who could have dreamed the people they needed protection from were the Senate’s own members?
Before Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) stood on the Supreme Court steps and threatened two men inside, he voted for that bill. Then, in a moment that revealed the nature of the abortion debate itself, Senator Schumer whipped into a euphoric rant for abortion rights and proved exactly why additional security was necessary when he issued this sinister warning. “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.”
Around the country, a stunned silence seemed to fall. Even the media was taken aback, shocked by the implications of Schumer’s threat. Chief Justice John Roberts, understanding the severity of the situation, wasted no time issuing a rare public statement. “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.”
From all corners, the horror at what Schumer had implied was almost universal. Fellow senators and congressmen were aghast. “Now Chuck Schumer is threatening Supreme Court justices personally, to the point of implying their physical safety is endangered. Disgusting, shameful, and frankly weak,” Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) argued. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who has a deeply personal understanding about the price of this kind of vitriol, called Schumer unhinged. “Enough. This rhetoric has dangerous consequences. Where’s the media’s outrage?”
Liberals, like Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe, didn’t spare the minority leader either. “These remarks by @SenSchumer were inexcusable. Chief Justice Roberts was right to call him on his comments. I hope the Senator, whom I’ve long admired and consider a friend, apologizes and takes back his implicit threat. It’s beneath him and his office.”
Even the American Bar Association, which is no friend to conservatives, issued a scathing statement, explaining how “deeply troubled” they are that the Senate minority leader would threaten “two sitting justices… over their upcoming votes in a pending case. Whatever one thinks about the merits of an issue before a court, there is no place for threats — whether real or allegorical.”
After sleeping on it, Senator Schumer finally issued an apology Thursday morning, insisting his threat was actually directed at Republicans (as if that’s somehow better). “My point was that there would be political consequences for President Trump and Senate Republicans if the Supreme Court, with the newly confirmed justice, stripped away a women’s right to choose.” He said he regretted his choice of words, but to suggest this was a physical warning “is a gross distortion.”
As damage control strategies go, it was a nice try. But there’s no disputing who Schumer was addressing or what he was inferring. Also, these are two members of the Supreme Court, appointed for life. What possible “political” consequences could he have meant except violence? And while we’re on the subject of revisionist history, the case in question had nothing to do with a “woman’s right to choose.” In fact, it had nothing to do with abortion at all — except for how negligent its providers are.
And that’s where this story takes an interesting twist. Schumer wasn’t outside the court railing about a challenge to Roe v. Wade. He was railing at a law whose only purpose is to make the hospital transfer faster if an abortion goes wrong — like if a woman bleeds out, as she did here. Or if her uterus is punctured, like here. Think about that. The Democratic Party is so outraged at the thought of protecting patients’ lives that they’re willing to threaten two others’. It’s astounding. They don’t just mind hurting women — they want to hurt whoever disagrees with them. If you’re looking for the party of violence, my friends, you found it.
“Sadly, this attack,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the floor earlier today, “was not some isolated incident. The Left-wing campaign against the federal judiciary did not begin yesterday.” To most Americans, it’s as fresh as Brett Kavanaugh’s nightmarish confirmation. But, McConnell promised, “As long as this majority holds the gavel, we will never let the Minority Leader’s dangerous views become policy. This majority will ensure the only casualties of this recklessness are the reputations of those who engage in it.”
For an inside look at Wednesday’s oral arguments and what’s at stake, don’t miss the column from FRC’s Katherine Johnson, “Let the States Protect Women” in the Washington Examiner.
Tony Perkins’s Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.