Mar 5, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Schumer on Supreme Court remarks: "I should not have used the words I used"

Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed regret on Thursday for comments he made about Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, following a rare public rebuke by Chief Justice John Roberts.

The backdrop: As the Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday for its first major abortion case since Kavanaugh was confirmed, Schumer warned the two conservative justices that "you won't know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions." Roberts responded that "threatening statements" from top public officials are "not only inappropriate," but also "dangerous."

What he's saying:

"Now, I should not have used the words I used yesterday. They did not come out the way I intended to. My point was that there would be political consequences—political consequences, for President Trump and Senate Republicans—if the Supreme Court, with newly confirmed Justices, stripped away a woman’s right to choose. Of course, I did not 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. I shouldn’t have used the words I did, but in no way was I making a threat. I never—never—would do such a thing. And Leader McConnell knows that. And Republicans who are busy manufacturing outrage over these comments know that too."

The big picture: Schumer's comments drew a pile-on from Republicans. On the Senate floor Thursday, McConnell called the remarks "threatening" and "dangerous," adding: "Every time Democrats try to threaten sitting judges, we are reminded exactly, exactly, why the framers gave them life tenure and salary protection."

  • President Trump also tweeted Thursday that Schumer brought "great danger" to the justices, despite Trump himself frequently attacking the federal judiciary for rulings he didn't like and using phrases like "Obama judges."

Go deeper

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.

Exclusive: Justice Stephen Breyer on politics and the rule of law

Photo: Axios on HBO

In an interview with "Axios on HBO," Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer urged Americans to re-engage in civics and vote — and not to expect the judiciary to resolve political questions.

Driving the news: It's more than knowing that "judges are not just shouldn't-be-politicians," he said. "They're very bad politicians. Don't get involved in that. That's not your job."

RBG continues workouts at Supreme Court despite coronavirus

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for DVF

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's personal trainer Bryant Johnson told Law360 that she's continuing her famous twice-weekly workout in the Supreme Court's private facility despite the coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: The CDC notes that those who are over 65 and immunocompromised are at particular risk for severe complications from coronavirus. Ginsburg is 87 and has survived cancer four times.

Go deeperArrowApr 1, 2020 - Health