WASHINGTON – Chief Justice John Roberts on Wednesday criticized the Senate’s top Democrat for saying the two Supreme Court members appointed by Trump would “pay the price” if they voted against the right to abortion.
“I want to tell you, Gorsuch. I want to tell you, Kavanaugh. You released the whirlwind and you will pay the price! Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., NY) said, speaking to Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh at a court rally as judges overheard an argument over a Louisiana Abortion Law. “You won’t know what hit you if you make these terrible decisions.”
Chief Justice Roberts, who spoke out in 2018 against President Trump’s attacks on federal judges, quoted Mr. Schumer’s remarks in a statement released after Wednesday’s hearing.
“Judges know that criticism comes with territory, but threatening statements like this from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous. All members of the Court will continue to do their work, without fear or favor, regardless of the neighborhood, ”the statement said.
Mr Schumer’s spokesperson replied: “Sen. Schumer’s comments referred to the political price Senate Republicans will pay for bringing those judges to court, and a warning that the judges will spark a major popular movement on the reproductive rights issue against the ruling.
American Bar Association president Judy Perry Martinez echoed the chief justice’s concerns, saying the legal organization was deeply troubled by Mr Schumer’s remarks.
“Whatever one thinks about the merits of a question in court, there is no room for threats, whether real or allegorical,” she said. “Such comments call into question the reputation of the co-equal third branch of our government; the independence of the judiciary; and the personal safety of judicial officers. They are never acceptable. “
Supreme Court justices have recently been in the political crosshairs.
During a visit to India last month, the president said judges Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg should be excluded from matters concerning him although he did not threaten the judges. Chief Justice Roberts did not respond to the president’s remarks.
Mr. Trump, on Twitter On Wednesday evening, Mr. Schumer’s comments were called a “direct and dangerous threat to the United States Supreme Court”.
“If a Republican did this, he or she would be arrested or arraigned,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Serious action MUST be taken NOW!”
In November 2018, the Chief Justice refuted President Trump’s comments denigrating California federal courts, including his characterization of a lawyer who ruled against the administration as an “Obama judge.”
“We don’t have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” the chief justice said at the time. “What we have is an amazing group of dedicated judges who do their best to uphold the same law as those who appear before them.”
Write to Jess Bravin at [email protected]
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