Mar 4, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Chief Justice Roberts laments Chuck Schumer's “dangerous” comments

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts walks out of the Senate chamber on Feb. 5. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts issued a rare public rebuke on Wednesday of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who blasted Trump-appointed Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh as the court weighs its first major abortion case.

What's happening: The Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday over a Louisiana law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, as it considers a case that could revive abortion restrictions.

Context: "I want to tell you Gorsuch, I want to tell you Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price," Schumer remarked at a rally earlier on Wednesday. "You won't know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions."

What Roberts is saying:

"This morning, Senator Schumer spoke at a rally in front of the Supreme Court while a case was being argued inside. Senator Schumer referred to two Members of the Court by name and said he wanted to tell them that 'You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You will not know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.'
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."
Justice Roberts' statement on Wednesday

The other side:

"Women's health care rights are at stake and Americans from every corner of the country are in anguish about what the court might do to them.
Sen. Schumer's comments were a reference to the political price Senate Republicans will pay for putting these justices on the court, and a warning that the justices will unleash a major grassroots movement on the issue of reproductive rights against the decision.
For Justice Roberts to follow the right wing's deliberate misinterpretation of what Sen. 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 spokesperson Justin Goodman in a statement responding to Roberts

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