THE PRIMA FACIE THREAT
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer identified two specific Supreme Court Justices by name and not the entire court. He tells them, “you won’t know what hit you, and you will pay the price.” Whether you live in Brooklyn, NY or in the corn fields of Iowa; to many that is interpreted as a threat. It appears (because of the public’s response) that Schumer was apparently and deliberately intimidating two specific Federal Supreme Court Justices in a manner that would make them (or anyone who would receive such a message) concerned for their safety. To threaten a federal public official is a crime that makes one subject to arrest and prosecution.
However, because he is a member of the US Senate, he will not be held accountable. He will continue to say that it was a political statement and nothing more, however, the fact of the matter is, that even though Schumer may indicate that he was pointing to those on the Right of the political aisle, there is nothing that he or the congress can do to remove a member of the Supreme Court. Whether you like it or not, they are appointed for life. Yes, if the congress comes under Democratic control again they can impeach a Justice, but only for legal cause, not because they voted for a decision that you didn’t like. If that were the case then every decision would place a Justice’s status in potential jeopardy. Therefore, unless you can predict a future legal cause, then pragmatically your threats have to be considered personal and potentially physical.
Supreme Court Justices are considered “Apolitical,” in other words, they are considered impartial and independent. Once they are appointed they are no longer Democrat or Republican (although we know better). To threaten a Justice by saying the political party that was responsible for their nomination and confirmation will be elected out of office during the next election as a means of reprisal makes no sense because the president that nominates the candidate nor the congress that confirms them can no longer control the decisions of the Justice once confirmed. The president or the congress cannot rescind the nomination or vote. Furthermore, people aren’t known for voting against a political candidate because of a Justice’s decision. They will usually vote along party lines regardless.
Moreover, when you are speaking to a raucous crowd of people who are passionate, emotional and potentially volatile, it is easy for them to interpret your threats as a dog whistle permission to “go ahead and do your worst against them.” It was completely an irresponsible thing to do, especially for someone who has the experience and tenure that Schumer has while knowing the laws regarding this matter. However, when you take into consideration that the court Justices were deliberating at that time over the issue of his concern, I am certain he knew and felt that desperate times called for desperate measures (wasn’t that the purpose for the rally?) In other words, the end justifies the means.
THE CHIEF JUSTICE RESPONDS TO SCHUMER’S THREATS
Chief Justice John Roberts rebuked Chuck Schumer for his threats. Therefore, it was clear that the Chief Justice interpreted Schumer’s statement as a threat and therefore called it dangerous. Not only dangerous physically but it sets a dangerous precedence for others who want to intimidate future Justices of the court to vote their way. This apparently was a very calculated move by the senator who is an extremely intelligent old political war horse that knows the ins and outs of politics. He is not a freshman in congress and therefore prone to make this kind of “mistake,” he knew exactly what he was doing, no question. All of his responses to other political matters against his opposition had been measured and well thought out. For the most part, in a political conflict he is the type of experienced politician that you’d like to have on your side. However, regardless of his passion or the reason, when it comes to what he did this time, he was wrong.
Some on the Left say that Chief Justice Roberts didn’t say anything when President Trump stated recently that two of the Supreme Court Justices should recuse themselves from future cases regarding him because of their bias. However, even those with a modicum of common sense and honesty can see that the President never made a threat or anything that could even be interpreted as a threat.
SCHUMER’S AAH ERR APOLOGY? I’m from Brooklyn that’s why I did it.
Chuck Schumer gives his “apology” to the US Senate regarding the words that he used that were interpreted as a threat against the two Justices that he mentioned by name. He skillfully diverted the issue from his use of a threat to the subject of championing the women’s right to choose which was fueled by his passion for the subject. He pointed to his being from Brooklyn as the apparent reason for his losing control and selecting his choice of words. For Senator Schumer who is a master in Verbal Jujitsu it is difficult to believe that he was not in control of his choice of words.
He also started his “apology” by giving some of the blame to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. For Schumer to imply that Senator McConnell should have known better is paramount to him saying, “He should have known that I didn’t say what I meant or meant what I said,” it’s a tactic that is nothing more than placing the blame for his own behavior on someone else. First it was Senator McConnell’s fault, and then it was Brooklyn’s fault, then the Republican Party’s faulty. I am surprised that he didn’t find a way to blame President Trump for making him say that. But it’s still early yet, the process isn’t over and there’s still time…right Chuck.
THE SENATE RESPONDS TO SCHUMER’S THREATS
The Senate Republicans are drafting a resolution to censure Senator Schumer. What will become of it is anybody’s guess, but to use a cliché , “The horse is already out of the barn,” and Schumer has made his point, the “perceived” threat has been made and received. I am sure that Senator Schumer realized that censure or no, that the “juice was worth the squeeze.”
This writer pondered on whether to use warning verses threat. After revisiting the differences in the meaning of the two it was clear that the differences weren’t very clear. Although one can argue about subtle differences based upon purpose, some warnings are apparently threats and vice versa. We eventually settled on threat because that was the term being used by the media since this story originally broke.
Nevertheless, in the wake of the Coronavirus, this subject was swept under the rug and we aren’t likely to hear about it again…at least until the next one.
IMHO!!! This is my opinion, please share you’re below.
DISCLAIMER: This posting is not to provide a comprehensive review of the subject, but to simply introduce the subject and encourage readers to research on their own and to contribute to the discussion.