Growing Ethics Complaints on Schumer for SCOTUS Comments

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and other senators head to a closed-door security briefing on Iran, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is facing growing ethics complaints over comments he made last week at an abortion rights rally on the steps of the Supreme Court that many interpreted as a threat against the court’s two newest justices.

“At a minimum, Attorney/Senator Schumer’s statements appear to be improper conduct that reflects upon his character and fitness to practice law in New York,” attorney Joseph Gioconda wrote Monday in a letter to New York’s Grievance Committee for the Second Judicial District, Fox News reported.

During the rally as the court was deciding a Louisiana abortion law, Schumer took aim at the two associate justices appointed by President Donald Trump, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

“I want to tell you, Gorsuch. I want to tell you, Kavanaugh. You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price!” he said. “You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”

Chief Justice John Roberts immediately rebuked the statement, saying, “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. All Members of the Court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.”

Other critics also termed the words a threat, though Schumer, in a statement on the Senate floor, said his words were not meant to threaten the justices.

Schumer said he “should not have used the words I used,” and that “they didn’t come out the way I intended to.” Schumer explained, “I’m from Brooklyn. We speak in strong language.”

He did not apologize.

The right-leaning National Legal and Policy Center has filed complaints with the New York bar and the Senate Ethics Committee over what Schumer said at the rally and for criticizing Roberts’ response.

The Landmark Legal Foundation has filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee demanding reprimand or censure.

Both the NLPC and Landmark’s complaints say Schumer may have violated federal law by threatening an officer of the court.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is also calling on Schumer to be censured, as have several noted conservative leaders in a letter sent to the Senate, Fox reported.