Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has denied he threatened Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch at a pro-abortion rally on Wednesday, but the country's leading organization of lawyers and jurists is not buying it.
In a statement, the American Bar Association declared it was "deeply troubled" by Schumer's impassioned rant aimed at two of the court's conservative jurists.
"The American Bar Association is deeply troubled by today's statements from the Senate Minority Leader threatening two sitting justices of the U.S. Supreme Court over their upcoming votes in a pending case," ABA President Judy Perry Martinez said. "Whatever one thinks about the merits of an issue before a court, there is no place for threats — whether real or allegorical."
The ABA added: "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's comments are 'not only inappropriate, they are dangerous'
At a rally outside the Supreme Court Wednesday while the court heard arguments in an abortion case, Schumer threatened that Gorsuch and Kavanaugh would "pay the price" if they ruled incorrectly. In his speech, Schumer called out the two associate justices by name and declared: "I want to tell you, Gorsuch. I want to tell you, Kavanaugh. You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price!"
In a rare public statement, Chief Justice John Roberts slammed the New York Democrat's comments, saying they 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," Roberts added.
Schumer now denies making the threat, but it is on video
A spokesman for Schumer responded to Roberts by accusing him of political bias and engaging in a "deliberate misinterpretation" of the New York Democrat's comments, arguing they were aimed at Republican lawmakers who oppose abortion, not at Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.
Schumer's spokesman also accused Roberts of "remaining silent when President Trump attacked Justices [Sonia] Sotomayor and [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg last week, shows Justice Roberts does not just call balls and strikes."
The denials issued by Schumer's office strain credulity because his attacks against the two justices were caught on video. "You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price" is clearly prefaced by "I want to tell you, Gorsuch. I want to tell you, Kavanaugh."
On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Schumer of trying "to gaslight the entire country" by denying what he said.
"At the very best his comments were astonishing, reckless and completely irresponsible, and clearly as the chief justice stated in a rare and extraordinary rebuke they were 'dangerous,' because no matter the intention, words carrying the apparent threat of violence can have horrific unintended consequences," McConnell said.