Just as Trump is to blame for inciting Jan. 6 riot, Schumer is responsible for SCOTUS home protests
By Gary Abernathy
Protesters carry out Schumer’s ‘whirlwind’ court threat
In 2020, while arguments on an abortion case were taking place before the U.S. Supreme Court, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer marched to a microphone on the courthouse steps and, referencing justices Neal Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, shouted, “You have unleashed the whirlwind and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”
So shocking were Schumer’s threats that Chief Justice John Roberts admonished him, issuing a written rebuke 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.”
Now, with the unconscionable leak of a draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, Schumer’s threat is being carried out at the homes of the Supreme Court justices who are part of the majority opinion.
Anyone who blames Donald Trump for inciting the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol — and I’m one of them — cannot avoid connecting Schumer’s inciteful words with what’s happening now with protests in residential neighborhoods where the justices live. To point fingers at one and not the other is the height of hypocrisy.
Not the same thing, you say? Both are efforts through intimidation to change outcomes and shake the foundations of our governmental systems. What happened Jan. 6 may have provided us with more dramatic images, but angry mobs storming neighborhoods and targeting the homes of high court justices because they don’t like judicial outcomes is arguably just as bad and just as destructive to our nation’s underpinnings.
“US law enforcement agencies are beefing up security for Supreme Court justices after a leak suggested they may overturn legalised abortion,” the BBC reported. “The US Marshals Service said on Monday it was helping the agencies normally tasked with the judges' protection.”
What’s particularly disturbing is the scarcity of condemnation by too many of our leading media outlets for both the leak of the opinion and these acts of front porch intimidation. An exception, I’m happy to say, is The Washington Post, for which I’m a contributing columnist. One of the Post’s leading editors, Ruth Marcus — a staunch supporter of abortion rights — very quickly condemned the leak, while the Post editorial board has condemned the protests.
Sorry, but whoever the source, leaking a draft opinion isn’t bravery — it’s betrayal. I love a leak as much as the next reporter, and kudos to Politico for its scoop, but unlike Congress and the White House, the court can’t function this way. It’s one thing for information to dribble out after the fact about switched votes, but something else entirely for a draft judicial work product to make its way into breaking-news alerts. And as much as I fear the consequences of the current six-justice conservative supermajority, I’m not prepared to believe the institution should be destroyed, which would be the consequence of a culture of preemptive leaking.
The Post’s editorial board then produced an editorial — which speaks for the newspaper, not just a particular writer — condemning the home protests.
To picket a judge’s home is especially problematic. It tries to bring direct public pressure to bear on a decision-making process that must be controlled, evidence-based and rational if there is to be any hope of an independent judiciary. Critics of reversing Roe maintain, defensibly, that to overturn such a long-standing precedent would itself violate core judicial principles. Yet if basic social consensus and the rule of law are to be sustained — and if protesters wish to maximize their own persuasiveness — demonstrations against even what many might regard as illegitimate rulings must respect the rights of others. And they must be lawful.
The editorial went on to point out, “A federal law — 18 U.S.C. Section 1507 — prohibits ‘pickets or parades’ at any judge’s residence, ‘with the intent of influencing’ a jurist ‘in the discharge of his duty.’ These are limited and justifiable restraints on where and how people exercise the right to assembly. Citizens should voluntarily abide by them, in letter and spirit. If not, the relevant governments should take appropriate action.”
Too many others are hailing the leaker as a hero, and excusing the actions of the protesters. And Schumer’s reprehensible call to action — which he attempted to somewhat walk back, claiming he was merely calling for a political response — should be more widely condemned.
I do disagree with Ruth Marcus on the likely source of the leak. I think it will most likely be found to have come from one of the liberal justices’ offices. I’m not always a big fan of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), but I liked this exchange he had with a reporter.
Reporter: “Senator, why do you think you know this was a liberal clerk who leaked this? Do you have information that suggests that?”
Cruz: “Because I’m not a moron. Because I live on planet earth.”
GOP, listen up: Here’s what Nancy Pelosi wants you to be
There’s nothing quite as meaningless as a leader in one party preaching to the other party about what it should do or be. Here’s Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi doing just that, and it made me smile.
When was the Republican Party pro-choice on abortion or anti-fossil fuels on environmental issues? What on earth is she talking about?
The Hill’s report on Susan Rice and covid contradicts itself
The Hill, among others, reported on White House domestic policy advisor Susan Rice getting a case of covid. By now, who hasn’t?
The Hill’s story included this paragraph:
Most Biden administration officials, like Rice, are vaccinated and boosted and have reported experiencing mild or no systems when they test positive. Still, the recent cases underscore the enduring threat from the virus.
Those two sentences are entirely contradictory. First, we’re told that officials are vaccinated and boosted, and symptoms (The Hill accidentally wrote “systems”) are mild or nonexistent. Then they turn around and say the recent cases underscore “the enduring threat” from the virus.
Actually, it’s quite the opposite. The threat from the virus has been reduced in the vast majority of people to mild or nonexistent — as The Hill just said. People testing positive for covid but experiencing mild or nonexistent symptoms actually underscores the continuing weakness of the virus, the effectiveness of vaccines and the natural immunity that’s happening — not the “enduring threat.”
Why do so many in the media feel the need to continue their alarmist reporting on this?
Again, cases are no longer what we should be concerned with. We’ll know the media outlets are finally being responsible when they stop reporting on high-profile people testing positive, and only produce stories when such people become ill from covid — which is increasingly rare.
On Election Day in WV, a look back on how things changed
It’s Election Day in West Virginia, and I appreciated Hoppy Kercheval inviting me on his WVMetroNews show “Talkline” this morning to discuss the turnaround from Democrat to Republican. It provided me the opportunity to reminisce about my time working in politics there and give some shout-outs to people who helped make it happen, from former WVGOP chair Kris Warner to Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and many others in between.
Check it out:
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