Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts issued a blistering statement Wednesday in response to “threatening statements” he accused Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) of making about the justices earlier in the day.
“This morning, Senator Schumer spoke at a rally in front of the Supreme Court while a case was being argued inside. Senator Schumer referred to two Members of the Court by name and said he wanted to tell them that ‘You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You will not know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions,'” he said.
“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,” he continued. “All Members of the Court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.”
“Sen. Schumer’s comments were a reference to the political price Senate Republicans will pay for putting these justices on the court, and a warning that the justices will unleash a major grassroots movement on the issue of reproductive rights against the decision,” Schumer spokesperson Justin Goodman told TPM. “For Justice Roberts to follow the right wing’s deliberate misinterpretation of what Sen. Schumer said, while remaining silent when President Trump attacked Justices Sotomayor and Ginsberg last week, shows Justice Roberts does not just call balls and strikes.”
The court took up a virtually identical case out of Texas, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, and struck it down two years ago for the “undue burden” it placed on women seeking abortions.
Now, the composition of the court has changed. With Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote on Whole Woman’s Health, retired and Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on the bench, the Louisiana law will see a courtroom likely much more hostile to abortion rights.
Abortion rights activists say that the Louisiana law, which like the Texas one, concerns admitting privileges at nearby hospitals for doctors who perform abortions, is an attempt to defang Roe v. Wade by putting abortion clinics out of service.
While proponents of the law say that the admitting privileges requirement makes women safer, opponents argue that abortion is a safe and rarely surgical procedure that almost never requires subsequent hospitalization.