Chief Justice Roberts Criticizes Schumer

Ø  Chief Justice John Roberts publicly chastised Chuck Schumer for what he deemed threatening comments.

Ø  The supreme court was in session hearing about a Louisiana bill that would require doctors who give abortions to have admitting rights at a near by hospital.

Ø  Schumer was speaking outside of the court while this was happening, he said: Justices “won’t know what hit em”, and “have released the whirlwind, and shall pay the price” if they vote to restrict abortion rights.

Ø  Justice Roberts released a written statement saying statements like that are inappropriate and dangerous, but will not deter the supreme court from doing their job.

Ø  Schumer has said his remarks were about paying a political price.

Ø  Roberts is drawing criticism for attacking Schumer now but not at all mentioning Donald Trumps public calls for judges Sotomayer and Ginsburg to be removed from his case last week.

Ø  Trump joined in saying Schumers word were an attack on the Supreme Court.

Ø  Roberts had previously defended the Justices saying that they do not play to political bias based on appointment: “There are no Obama Judges or Trump Judges”.

View Analysis

Left View

Schumer Puts Foot in His Mouth 

In an attempt to rile up abortion-rights supporters at a rally, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer appeared to threaten Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. Calling them both by name and saying, “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.” Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts responded by issuing a statement saying, “threatening statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous.”

Chuck Schumer countered by reasoning that he meant no real physical threat to the Justices, and that the “price” they would pay was in purely political terms. This may be, but I believe Schumer made a mistake. As much of a liberal as I am, I believe it foolish to give the opposing side any ammunition for the long fight. To match the President’s rhetoric mano-a-mano places anyone on the same level as him.

Schumer should know better. Supreme Court Justices cannot be removed politically anyway. They serve until resigned, retired or deceased. What political consequence is he envisioning for Gorsuch and Kavanaugh? Does he think that type of rhetoric will get them to rule in favor of abortion-rights? Perhaps his main goal was to excite the fervor of the crowd, in which case, it was still a wrong move. What if someone were to take it upon themselves to fulfill Senator Schumer’s threats in some tangible way?

Those of us on the left who are critical of the President’s use of rhetoric to bully his political opponents must be careful to avoid doing the same. We can promote a progressive agenda through intelligent, respectful discourse.

Right View

Trump and Schumer not the same 

At a reproductive rights rally held outside the US Supreme Court on Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) appeared to threaten the two Trump-appointed judges when he said, “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 through with these awful decisions.” The “awful decisions” he was referring to were in connection with the June Medical Services v. Russo abortion case the court was hearing.

Schumer’s comments brought a swift rebuke from the normally low-key Chief Justice who said in a written statement that “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.”

A Schumer spokesman was quick to fire back claiming that “Sen. Schumer’s comments were a reference to the political price Senate Republicans will pay for putting these justices on the court.” The spokesman also accused Chief Justice Roberts of political bias.

Unfortunately for Schumer’s camp, the Senator’s spokesman got a major fact wrong when he claimed Sen. Schumer was referring to Senate Republicans, since Schumer very clearly called out Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh by name. While I highly doubt Schumer was explicitly calling for violence against the conservative judges, his comments were out of place, and the American Bar Association agrees, saying that “Whatever one thinks about the merits of an issue before a court, there is no place for threats—whether real or allegorical.”

Democrats were quick to come to Schumer’s defense and accuse Chief Justice Roberts of hypocrisy for not chastising President Trump when he called for Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg to recuse themselves from certain cases because of an alleged bias. While Trump, no doubt, occasionally says things that are reproachable, his request for Sotomayor and RGB to recuse themselves is not comparable to Sen. Schumer’s apparent threats.

Trump tweeted out that Schumer’s comments were a “direct and dangerous threat,” and “Serious action MUST be taken NOW!”


Decorum has been dead for a while now. Roberts is not wrong, but he is unfortunately out of touch. When a Justice make threats in their confirmation hearing and a president spends his days tweeting out insults it's pretty hard to get worked up over this.

Republicans are playing the snowflake game again. They can dish it, but can’t take it in return and then we have to watch Justice Roberts clutch at his pearls.

Kavanaugh: “You sowed the wind. I fear for decades to come the country will reap the whirlwind.” 9/27/18

Schumer: “You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price.”

This isn’t a threat by Schumer, at least not in the way it is being portrayed by the right wing propagandists. It’s a calculated retort, 18 months later, to rebuke draconian rightwing regressive ideologies. Moreover, the separation of political bias and the SCOTUS is one that can only be believed by ignoring the fact that the SCOTUS is very much politically driven. At the end of the day, each judge’s interpretation of the constitution is not a “matter of fact.” There are countless books about political and legal philosophy that parse out SCOTUS judges and their reasoning behind concurring or disagreeing with the majority ruling.