Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) spoke at a Planned Parenthood rally on Wednesday in front of the US Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., as the court was hearing a challenge to a Louisiana law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The senator drew attention after making remarks that threatened two Supreme Court justices.
“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.” A spokesman for Schumer quickly responded that Schumer was addressing Republican lawmakers with his threats, although it seemed clear that he had named two sitting Supreme Court justices by name.
In a rare response, Chief Justice John Roberts condemned the speech, stating “Threatening statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous.” Roberts in the past has defended against alleged bias in the Supreme Court, saying, “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”
Threatening a judge is an obstruction of justice felony according to 18 U.S. Code § 1503: Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, endeavors to influence, intimidate, or impede any grand or petit juror, or officer in or of any court of the United States, or officer who may be serving at any examination or other proceeding before any United States magistrate judge or other committing magistrate, in the discharge of his duty, or injures any such grand or petit juror in his person or property on account of any verdict or indictment assented to by him, or on account of his being or having been such juror, or injures any such officer, magistrate judge, or other committing magistrate in his person or property on account of the performance of his official duties, or corruptly or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, influences, obstructs, or impedes, or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).