Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) threats against conservative Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh are the talk of the nation.
Speaking at a Planned Parenthood rally on the Supreme Court’s steps on Wednesday, Schumer didn’t exactly threaten to sell the jurists’ body parts after vivisection. But he did say, “I want to tell you Justice Kavanaugh and Justice Gorsuch: You have unleashed a whirlwind, and you will pay the price . . . you won’t know what hit you, if you go forward.”
Schumer may not be aware that “reap the whirlwind” is a Biblical allusion from Hosea, a book of dire warnings, which it wouldn’t hurt him to read. As for “pay the price” and “you won’t know what hit you,” if used against elected officials, those phrases might be excused as tough talk referring to the next election.
But justices are not elected.
Still, let’s presume those are not actual threats of violence—for two excellent reasons.
First, there are likely a thousand opinion columns and a million Facebook posts being composed which give more than adequate coverage to the scenario in which they are.
But second, Schumer operates in a blustering, disingenuous, ruthless world of political pressure. It’s logical that political pressure is what he intended his threats to convey. Yes, “tough talk” also energizes constituents, but only if they believe that Schumer has some practical option in mind.
What could that option be? What dirty tricks, what impassioned calumnies, what forms of character assassination could be employed against Gorsuch and Kavanaugh—I mean, which weren’t already employed, in the no-holds-barred confirmation fights? What more could be done to destroy those who’ve strode manfully through the gauntlet of the Democrat’s full fury?
We’ve discounted violence. (Read those other columns, for that possibility.) Partisan impeachment attempts? That weapon’s already been deployed, ineffectively, and it can only become weaker with further use. So, what’s he got? Mean words from celebrities at the next awards show?
Whatever the nonviolent option for punishing justices is, Schumer’s playing a risky game by threatening it. The judiciary deliberately was set up to be insulated from public whims and legislative agendas. If there’s a way around that, however, if there’s a partisan reprisal option which can penetrate the defenses the Founders put in place . . . well, then, both sides can employ it.
If there’s a way the enemies of the Constitution can punish originalist judges, it stands to reason that justices who vandalize the Constitution to further the progressive agenda can also face reprisals from the Constitution’s friends.
So, what tactic do you have in mind, Schumer? Go ahead and unleash it—if you’re ready to see it used against you, too. If you go forward, you know exactly what will hit you—because it was your idea in the first place.