Senator Josh Hawley, (R-Mo.) introduced a resolution Thursday calling for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to be censured, a day after he threatened two United States Supreme Court justices during an abortion rally outside of the Supreme Court.
“[T]he statements of Senator Schumer are 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,” the resolution, co-sponsored by 14 senators, states.
Senators co-sponsoring @HawleyMO's resolution to censure Schumer for the Gorsuch/Kavanaugh remarks:
Martha McSally pic.twitter.com/lnc23EhYbA
— Nate Madden (@NateOnTheHill) March 5, 2020
In the House, U.S. Representative Andy Biggs, (R-Ariz.) introduced a similar resolution to condemn Schumer.
I introduced today’s resolution to condemn Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer because his threatening rhetoric has NO place in the U.S. Congress – especially from a leader of one of our parties.
I hope my colleagues will join me on this resolution. pic.twitter.com/pA2zU5BEQv
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) March 5, 2020
The Supreme Court on Wednesday heard oral arguments on the future of a 2014 state law in Louisiana that requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges to local hospitals.
Schumer spoke in front of a pro-abortion demonstration. “I want to tell you Justice Kavanaugh and Justice Gorsuch: You have unleashed a whirlwind, and you will pay the price,” the New York senator bellowed, after accusing the two of “taking away fundamental rights.”
He went on to warn the justices: “You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”
Schumer’s remarks appeared to be a reference to Kavanaugh’s warning to Democratic senators about their disgraceful behavior during his bitter confirmation fight in the fall of 2018: “You sowed the wind. For decades to come, I fear the country will reap the whirlwind.”
Schumer’s comments were immediately condemned by a large number of Republican lawmakers, officials, and pundits, including Hawley.
The Missouri senator’s resolution states that Schumer’s words “could be read to suggest a threat or call for physical violence against 2 Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States,” while noting that “political violence in the United States has increased over the last decade[.]”
The resolution also cites statistics of violence against the judiciary, including 4,542 “threats and inappropriate communications” that were investigated in 2018, and four federal judges that have been murdered since 1979.
It goes on to reference Chief Justice John Roberts’ rare rebuke of Schumer’s remarks, and Schumer’s own past words condemning such threats.
“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. All members of the court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter,” Roberts said in a written statement on Wednesday.
Thursday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) condemned Schumer for his threatening comments, calling them “astonishingly reckless and irresponsible.”
Speaking on the Senate floor, McConnell said: “The minority leader of the United States Senate threatened two associate justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. Period.”
He said Schumer’s comments were “an injection of partisan politics into a process that should be immune to them. At worst, it was a threat targeting two sitting members of the Supreme Court.”
“No matter the intention, words carrying the apparent threat of violence can have horrific unintended violence,” McConnell said.
The Kentucky Republican urged Schumer to “withdraw his comments and apologize.”
Shortly after McConnell’s stern rebuke, Schumer came to the Senate floor and blasted McConnell for neglecting to mention that he was fighting for “a woman’s right to choose” when he made his threatening comments.
He went on to tell his colleagues: “I should not have used the words I used yesterday. They did not come out the way I intended to. My point was, there would be political consequences—political consequences!—for President Trump and Senate Republicans if the Supreme Court with the newly confirmed justices stripped away a woman’s right to choose.” Gorsuch was confirmed in April 2017; Kavanaugh in October 2018.
The New York senator explained, “I’m from Brooklyn, we speak in strong language.”
Schumer didn’t apologize, and he didn’t explain why his spokesman said the “right wing” was deliberately misinterpreting his comments.
His spokesman Justin Goodman said Wednesday that Schumer’s remarks were “a reference to the political price Senate Republicans will pay for putting these justices on the court.”
Goodman also blasted Chief Justice Roberts for allegedly following “the right wing’s deliberate misinterpretation” of Schumer’s words.
Instead of apologizing, Schumer explained that he felt “passionately” about the Louisiana case the court was considering and vowed to continue to fight for abortion rights.
“So, yes, I am angry,” he said. “The women of America are angry. And, yes, we will continue to fight for a woman’s right to choose. I will continue to fight for the women of America.”
If Hawley’s resolution passes, Schumer will become only the ninth senator in the body’s history to be censured by his colleagues.