Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called out Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on the Senate floor Thursday morning for his controversial warning a day earlier that Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh would “pay the price” for decisions in abortion cases, Fox News has learned.
“There is nothing to call this except a threat,” McConnell said.
Schumer made the statement during an abortions rights rally hosted by the Center for Reproductive Rights as the court was hearing arguments in a case over an abortion-related Louisiana law.
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS ISSUES RARE REBUKE TO SCHUMER’S ‘DANGEROUS’ AND ‘IRRESPONSIBLE’ COMMENTS
“I want to tell you, Gorsuch. I want to tell you, Kavanaugh. You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price!” Schumer warned. “You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”
McConnell is not the only senator addressing the statement as Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said he would introduce a resolution to censure the minority leader.
“I would call on Schumer to apologize, but we all know he has no shame,” Hawley wrote Wednesday. “So tomorrow I will introduce a motion to censure Schumer for his pathetic attempt at intimidation of #SupremeCourt.”
Schumer’s words were also met with a rare rebuke from Chief Justice John Roberts, as well as the American Bar Association and President Trump.
“It was a disgrace to the Supreme Court and to the U.S. Senate,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
Roberts said in a statement that “threatening statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous,” and that the justices “will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.”
READ ROBERTS’ STATEMENT
Liberal Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe took the conservative Roberts’ side, calling Schumer’s words “inexcusable.” He said Roberts was correct to say something and hoped that Schumer would apologize.
The American Bar Association said they were “deeply troubled” by Schumer’s remarks.
“Whatever one thinks about the merits of an issue before a court, there is no place for threats — whether real or allegorical,” the ABA said in a statement. “Personal attacks on judges by any elected officials, including the President, are simply inappropriate. Such comments challenge the reputation of the third, co-equal branch of our government; the independence of the judiciary; and the personal safety of judicial officers. They are never acceptable.”
Schumer spoke as protesters gathered outside the Supreme Court building amid oral arguments in the case of June Medical Services LLC v. Russo, which deals with a law requiring those who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. A similar law in Texas was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016 because the resulting closure of facilities would create an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions. Schumer noted that the current case is the first “major” abortion case since Trump’s court picks have been on the bench.
Schumer spokesman Justin Goodman responded to Roberts’ rebuke by accusing the chief justice of bias, further escalating the confrontation. Goodman insisted that Schumer was addressing Republican lawmakers when he said a “price” would be paid — even though Schumer had explicitly named Kavanaugh and Gorsuch.
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“Women’s health care rights are at stake and Americans from every corner of the country are in anguish about what the court might do to them,” Goodman said in a statement to Fox News. “Sen. Schumer’s comments were a reference to the political price Senate Republicans will pay for putting these justices on the court, and a warning that the justices will unleash a major grassroots movement on the issue of reproductive rights against the decision.”
He added: “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.”
Fox News’ Charles Creitz and Gregg Re contributed to this report.