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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., may still face consequences from his colleagues after facing criticism from conservatives and liberals alike for remarks he directed towards Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh at an abortion rights rally last week that some have considered threatening.
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., has continued to call for Schumer to be censured after introducing a resolution in the Senate to do just that. And dozens of well-known conservative leaders signed a letter Monday adding their voices to the calls.
“Of course Schumer’s attacks were ‘inappropriate’ and ‘wrong’! He should be CENSURED,” Hawley tweeted Friday, in response to a video of CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who stated that Schumer’s remarks sounded “like a physical threat.”
Schumer was speaking outside the Supreme Court building at an event hosted by the Center for Reproductive Rights as the court heard oral arguments in June Medical Services LLC v. Russo, a dispute dealing with the restrictions over who can perform abortions in Louisiana. The case involves a law similar to one in Texas that the court ruled was unconstitutional in 2016, before Gorsuch and Kavanaugh had joined the court.
“I want to tell you, Gorsuch. I want to tell you, Kavanaugh. You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price!” Schumer warned. “You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”
Chief Justice John Roberts responded with a rare rebuke, calling Schumer’s words “inappropriate” and “dangerous.” Even left-leaning Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe took Roberts’ side, calling Schumer’s remarks “inexcusable.”
Hawley’s resolution, which was co-sponsored by 14 senators, called for Schumer to be censured for the comments, which it describes as “an attempt to unduly influence the judicial decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States and to undermine the vision of the founders of the United States of the ‘complete independence of the courts of justice.'”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., took to the Senate floor Thursday morning to condemn Schumer’s comments. “There is nothing to call this except a threat,” McConnell said, claiming that Schumer was “trying to gaslight the entire country” by claiming that he was only addressing Republican lawmakers.
Schumer responded by claiming he was “passionate” and “angry” about the threat towards women’s ability to get abortions that the court case represented. He did not apologize to the justices, but admitted that he “should not have used the words I used,” and that “they didn’t come out the way I intended to.”
Hawley was not swayed by this, tweeting that Schumer was following a recent trend of Democrats threatening the Supreme Court. A group of Democratic senators in August filed a brief in a gun control case in which they accused the Supreme Court of being “not well” and warning that if it does not “heal itself,” it could be “restructured.” This was taken as a warning that the Democrats would attempt to pack the court by increasing the number of justices and loading the bench with liberals once a Democrat is back in the White House.
“Schumer’s threats to Gorsuch & Kavanaugh is part of pattern of Democrat attacks on the #SupremeCourt,” Hawley said. “Dems have threatened to pack it; now they’re threatening Justices personally. This is insane. It’s wrong. Schumer should be censured.”
If censured, Schumer would be just the ninth senator in U.S. history to face such discipline. The most recent was Sen. David Durenberger, R-Minn., who was officially “denounced” in 1990 after a 96-0 vote based on a variety of financial misconduct allegations.