WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – Thursday morning, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says he “should not have used the words” he did Wednesday outside the Supreme Court.
While court was in session inside, outside Schumer suggested that new justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh “won’t know what hit them” if they vote to uphold abortion restrictions in Louisiana.
The comments drew a rare rebuke from Chief Justice John Roberts who, in a statement said in part, “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.”
On the Senate floor Thursday Senator Schumer said he did not intend to suggest a true threat.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there’s no other way to interpret what Schumer said.
“He literally directed the statement to the justices by name, and he said, quote, ‘If you go forward with these awful decisions,’ which could only apply to the court itself,” Senator McConnell said. “The Minority Leader of the United States Senate threatened two associate justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, period. There’s no other way to interpret that. Even worse, the threat was not clearly political or institutional.”
Schumer stated, “Now, I should not have used the words I used yesterday. They didn’t come out the way I intended to. My point was that there would be political consequences, political consequences for President Trump and Senate Republicans if the Supreme Court, with the newly confirmed justices, stripped away a woman’s right to choose. Of course I didn’t intend to suggest anything other than political and public opinion consequences for the Supreme Court, and it is a gross distortion to imply otherwise.”