After Defending Supreme Court Threats, Schumer Now He Says He Misspoke

March 5, 2020

After doubling down on comments threatening two conservative Supreme Court justices, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) now says he misspoke.

"I should not have used the words I used yesterday," Schumer said in Thursday remarks on the Senate floor. "They didn't come out the way I intended to."

A day earlier at a rally on the steps of the Supreme Court, Schumer called out Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh by name and promised they would "pay the price" if they ruled in favor of abortion restrictions. "You won't know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions," Schumer said.

At first, Schumer's office defended his comments, attacking "the right wing's deliberate misinterpretation" and claiming that despite calling out the justices by name, Schumer's comments were actually "a reference to the political price Senate Republicans will pay for putting these justices on the court."

Schumer's comments earned a rare rebuke from Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote in a statement 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."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) ramped up his criticism of Schumer's threat in his own floor speech and 15 other Republican senators sponsored a resolution to censure and condemn Schumer's remarks.

"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 noted.

During his floor speech Thursday, Schumer backed down. "Of course, I didn't intend to suggest anything other than political and public opinion consequences for the Supreme Court," Schumer said.

"I'm from Brooklyn," he added. "We speak in strong language."