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."

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