This news outlet is no fan of U.S. supreme court justice Brett Kavanaugh. Not because we bought into the unproven allegations related to his contentious 2018 appointment, but because we believe he is a centrist squish – a bad choice for the bench. Still, recent threatening comments directed at him and fellow associate justice Neil Gorsuch by liberal U.S. Senate minority leader Charles Schumer are nothing short of reprehensible. And deserve to be condemned.
Appearing at a pro-choice rally on the steps of the court this week, Schumer – arguably the most powerful Democrat in Washington, D.C. – made some explicit threats against these two justices in connection with a Louisiana abortion case the court is hearing.
“I want to tell you, Gorsuch; I want to tell you, Kavanaugh: You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price,” Schumer said. “You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”
Take a look …
(Click to view)
(Via: Roll Call/ YouTube)
Schumer’s threats prompted a rare public rebuke from U.S. chief justice John Roberts.
“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,” Roberts said in a statement. “All members of the court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.”
U.S. president Donald Trump – who appointed Gorsuch and Kavanaugh – also condemned Schumer’s rant.
“There can be few things worse in a civilized, law abiding nation, than a United States Senator openly, and for all to see and hear, threatening the Supreme Court or its Justices,” Trump tweeted. “This is what Chuck Schumer just did. He must pay a severe price for this!”
Trump also added that if a Republican had made similar comments, “he or she would be arrested, or impeached.”
Indeed … and God forbid any conservative ideologue were to have made such comments on social media. They would have been permanently banned.
Even #NeverTrumper Mitt Romney blasted Schumer, calling his remarks “reprehensible.”
“What ever happened to truth and a simple apology?” Romney tweeted.
Schumer was also called out by his longtime friend Laurence Tribe – a liberal Harvard law school professor.
(Click to view)
(Via: Getty Images)
“These remarks were inexcusable,” Tribe tweeted. “Chief Justice Roberts was right to call him on his comments. I hope the Senator, whom I’ve long admired and consider a friend, apologizes and takes back his implicit threat. It’s beneath him and his office.”
As of this writing, Schumer has not apologized for his comments. In fact, his spokesman actually fired back at the chief justice – accusing him of ignoring what he claimed were similar statements made by Trump.
“For Justice Roberts to follow the right wing’s deliberate misinterpretation of what Sen. Schumer said, while remaining silent when President Trump attacked Justices (Sonia) Sotomayor and (Ruth Bader) Ginsberg last week, shows Justice Roberts does not just call balls and strikes,” Schumer spokesman Justin Goodman said.
Talk about doubling down …
Goodman also (weakly) tried to frame Schumer’s comments regarding paying the “price” as a threat against GOP members of congress – in the context of the 2020 elections.
Schumer will certainly have no shortage of accomplices in the left-leaning media as he seeks to turn these comments around on Trump. And obviously it goes without saying that Trump has never been the gold standard for elevated discourse in this nation.
Still, Schumer is way out on a limb here … and his office’s response to the scandal is not helping.
For starters, he was clearly speaking directly to Kavanaugh and Gorsuch – not Republicans in congress – when he made his comments. Any claim to the contrary is demonstrably false.
Similarly, attempts to conflate Trump’s recent comments regarding justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg with what Schumer said are easily dismissible – and deserving of contempt. Trump merely called on these two justices to recuse themselves from cases involving him – citing prior criticisms as evidence of bias. And while the president is clearly no choirboy, he never threatened them.
Again, though: This is not about Trump. Nor is it really even about Schumer. It is about what sort of communication is acceptable in the marketplace of ideas, and what is not.
As libertarians, this news outlet stands solidly in the camp of free expression – even if that expression is hateful. However, as we have often noted, the limit of one liberty can usually be found when it begins to impose upon the greater liberty of another – and speech which explicitly threatens the safety of another human being clearly crosses this demarcation line.
In fact, there is actually a law against the very speech Schumer uttered.
“It is unlawful to … utter loud, threatening, or abusive language in the Supreme Court Building or grounds,” per federal code 40 USC §6134. “An individual who violates this … shall be fined, imprisoned not more than 60 days, or both.”
We won’t hold our breath waiting for Schumer to be charged with violating this statute, but that doesn’t mean his comments won’t have consequences. Chief among them? Democrats – who have railed for years against Trump’s “divisive” and “inciting” rhetoric – have officially lost the high ground when it comes to criticizing the administration on this front.
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