Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) faces multiple ethics complaints for threatening Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch on the steps of the high court.
Schumer declared at a Center for Reproductive Rights rally last Wednesday that the two conservative judges will “pay the price” if they vote against pro-choice advocates in a case regarding a Louisiana abortion law.
“Over the last three years, women’s reproductive rights have come under attack in a way we haven’t seen in modern history. From Louisiana, to Missouri, to Texas, Republican legislatures are waging a war on women, all women, and they’re taking away fundamental rights,” he warned. “I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you, if you go forward with these awful decisions.”
Following blowback from Republicans, the New York Democrat offered a non-apology, saying he “shouldn’t have used the words I did” while claiming conservatives were “manufacturing outrage” over the statement.
On Friday, the National Legal Policy Center filed complaints against Schumer with both the Senate Ethics Committee and New York bar.
“It strains credulity to believe that, regardless of his Brooklyn pedigree, Sen. Schumer, who is a Harvard-educated lawyer, Senator minority leader, and vocal opponent of both Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, did not intend to choose the exact words he spoke as he turned and pointed to the Supreme Court behind him to further emphasize his point,” the NLPC’s complaint reads. “In short, his non-apology is a lame excuse for inexcusable conduct.”
The Landmark Legal Foundation, which is chaired by conservative talk radio host Mark Levin, also submitted a complaint to the upper chamber’s ethics panel Thursday.
“The Senate must immediately reprimand, if not censure, Sen. Schumer for his outrageous and dangerous attack on Supreme Court Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh,” said the complaint, alleging that the lawmaker’s comments could amount to “improper conduct which may reflect upon the Senate.”
In a separate complaint, attorney Joseph Gioconda wrote to New York’s Grievance Committee for the Second Judicial District: “At a minimum, Attorney/Senator Schumer’s statements appear to be improper conduct that reflects upon his character and fitness to practice law in New York.”
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Schumer’s remarks prompted a rare rebuke by Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, who called the New York Democrats’ threat both “inappropriate” and “dangerous.”
“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,” he said.
President Donald Trump also took aim at Schumer, calling for him to face “severe” punishment.
“This is a direct & dangerous threat to the U.S. Supreme Court by Schumer. If a Republican did this, he or she would be arrested, or impeached. Serious action MUST be taken NOW!” the president tweeted. “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. This is what Chuck Schumer just did. He must pay a severe price for this!”
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced a motion last Thursday to censure Schumer, with the support of 14 other Republican senators.
“Senator Schumer has acknowledged that threatening statements can increase the dangers of violence against government officials when he stated on June 15, 2017, following the attempted murder of several elected Members of Congress, ‘We would all be wise to reflect on the importance of civility in our [N]ation’s politics’ and that ‘the level of nastiness, vitriol, and hate that has seeped into our politics must be excised,’ the resolution reads.
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