Schumer Softens Comments Amid Republicans’ Sustained SCOTUS Outrage

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 04: Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks in an abortion rights rally outside of the Supreme Court as the justices hear oral arguments in the June Medical Services v. Russo ca... WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 04: Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks in an abortion rights rally outside of the Supreme Court as the justices hear oral arguments in the June Medical Services v. Russo case on March 4, 2020 in Washington, DC. The Louisiana abortion case is the first major abortion case to make it to the Supreme Court since Donald Trump became President. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images) MORE LESS
March 5, 2020 11:07 a.m.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) softened his comments about Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh Thursday amid a sustained howl of outrage from Republicans.

“I’m from Brooklyn. We speak in strong language,” Schumer said from the Senate floor. “I shouldn’t have used the words I did, but in no way was I making a threat. I never, never would do such a thing.”

Senate Republicans, quivering with indignation, had earlier in the morning marched onto the floor to decry Schumer’s comments.

“At a microphone in front of the Supreme Court, the Democratic Leader harangued and warned Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh by name,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA). “At best, it was an injection of partisan politics into the process that should be immune to these justices. At worst, it was a threat targeting two sitting members of the Supreme Court.”

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) chimed in, saying that “no matter the intention, words carrying the apparent threat of violence can have horrific unintended consequences.”

McConnell also mentioned the shooting at a congressional baseball practice in 2017 that left Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) seriously wounded, and claimed that Democrats attacked Chief Justice Roberts during impeachment as well.

Schumer spoke after the two senators, saying that there was a “glaring omission” in their floor speeches — that the Supreme Court case he was speaking about concerns a woman’s “constitutional right to choose.”

Schumer said that the Republicans have chosen justices who they believe will “strip away women’s rights.” “So yes, I am angry,” he said, adding that the core issue of the threat to abortion rights will surely outlast the “outrage” Republicans are currently “manufacturing.”

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) then took the stand to lend Schumer his support.

Durbin took shots at President Donald Trump for criticizing anybody about use of language, before reminding the audience about McConnell blocking former President Barack Obama from getting Merrick Garland on the bench and packing the federal courts with “unqualified” nominees.

“Preaching on this floor about your respect for the Supreme Court, your respect for our federal judiciary, doesn’t go very far when you take a close look at the record that senator McConnell has written,” he said.

The Republican ire stems from remarks Schumer made on the steps outside the Supreme Court Wednesday, while oral arguments concerning an abortion regulation law from Louisiana proceeded.

“You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price,” Schumer said then. “You will not know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”

The remarks elicited a rare statement from Roberts, who called the “threatening statements” “inappropriate” and “dangerous.”

Schumer dismissed Roberts’ reaction, saying that he meant the “political price” Senate Republicans will pay for putting justices on the Court who are set to chip away at Roe v. Wade. He added that Roberts’ interpretation of his comments, while the justice stayed mum during President Donald Trump’s targeting of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sonia Sotomayor just last week, shows that he’s not just “calling balls and strikes.”

Trump himself chimed in too, skating over his own attacks on the justices.

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