Congress must censure Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for threatening two Supreme Court justices outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday. This should be wholly bipartisan and utterly uncontroversial.
No American, no less a high-ranking member of Congress like Schumer, should be permitted to threaten government officials or judges. This type of thuggish behavior displayed by the senior U.S. senator has no place in a civilized society and must be condemned by all.
Speaking to abortion-rights activists this week, the New York Democrat issued direct threats against two conservative Supreme Court justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, who, amongst others on the Supreme Court, were hearing arguments on an abortion-related issue. 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." He warned, "You won't know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions."
Schumer's reckless threats could be viewed as inciting violence. At minimum, it sent a dog whistle to unhinged, far-left political radicals like antifa to harass, if not target, the two justices and other pro-life conservatives who support them. This is flat-out dangerous and cannot stand.
"I never thought I'd see the day when a Senator — let alone the leader of the Democrats — would threaten Supreme Court Justices." GOP leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted on Wednesday. This marks a dangerous new low."
It certainly does. Just ask U.S. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, who was a victim of political violence in 2017 by a crazed "Bernie Bro" political activist who shot him and others at a congressional charity baseball practice. Scalise suffered life-threatening wounds.
In recent years, our country has also witnessed other instances of chilling political violence.
Hence, it was wise and appropriate for Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to step in and issue a rare public rebuke of Schumer's inflammatory rhetoric.
"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," he said. "All members of the court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter."
Facing heavy public backlash following the incident, Schumer spoke from the chamber floor and said: "Now, I should not have used the words I used yesterday. They didn't come out the way I intended to. My point was there would be political consequences — political consequences for President Trump and Senate Republicans ... Of course, I didn't intend to suggest anything other than political and public opinion consequences for the Supreme Court, and it is a gross distortion to imply otherwise. I'm from Brooklyn. We speak in strong language."
Schumer's non-apology isn't cutting it with Republican lawmakers. Missouri Senator Josh Hawley introduced a resolution in Congress on Thursday to censure Chuck Schumer. Hawley tweeted: "Schumer refusing to take responsibility. This non-apology is the equivalent of "I'm sorry you feel that way." He threatened #SupremeCourt Justices. Personally. By name. He should be censured." #CensureSchumer
Every member of Congress should support the commonsense resolution Hawley has proposed to properly censure Sen. Schumer. Our Supreme Court justices are public servants who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless if one agrees or disagrees with their opinions. Vitriolic rhetoric and personal attacks against government officials are never OK.
Schumer should issue a sincere apology to both Supreme Court justices he named and also to the American people.
Anything short of that is wholly unacceptable.
Adriana Cohen is a syndicated columnist with the Boston Herald. Follow her on Twitter @AdrianaCohen16. To find out more about Adriana Cohen and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.