A trio of Republican senators from the powerful Judiciary Committee is calling on Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to dramatically walk back his rhetoric on the leaked Dobbs opinion, accusing the majority leader of “slander[ing]” Supreme Court justices and enabling “authoritarian” conduct from Democrats.
In a Thursday letter first obtained by The Federalist, Sens. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, directly asked Schumer to condemn threats against justices and “respect” the court’s independence by refraining from intimidation efforts aimed at pressuring the majority into a different ruling.
Asked by The Federalist on Friday whether Schumer condemns the tactics of groups like “Ruth Sent Us,” which include publishing the alleged private addresses of justices and demonstrating outside their homes, the senator’s press secretary did not respond. Schumer’s office also declined to respond when asked whether the leaking of Justice Alito’s draft opinion will subject the judicial process to inappropriate external pressures.
Blackburn, Lee, and Cruz took particular issue with Schumer’s rapid reaction to the Politico report that included Alito’s February draft of the majority opinion in Dobbs. “Immediately after this draft was leaked, you attacked the Supreme Court justices from the floor of the Senate, and again from the steps of the U.S. Capitol,” they wrote. “Specifically, during your May 3, 2022 remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate, you stated, ‘Several of these conservative justices . . . have lied to the U.S. Senate, ripped up the Constitution, and defiled both precedent and the Supreme Court’s reputation.'”
“We have serious concerns about your decision to slander our Supreme Court justices in order to achieve your preferred policy results,” said Blackburn, Lee, and Cruz, arguing that Republican-appointed justices who acknowledged Roe as “important precedent” in their confirmation hearings did not lie, as Schumer asserted, but demonstrated “neutrality.”
Citing Brown v. Board and Loving v. Virginia, the senators wrote, “There is no question that you support the Court overturning precedent where the Constitution and principles of stare decisis so require it—you just don’t want the Court to overturn the precedents you happen to like.”
They also cited Schumer’s statement in March of 2020 that Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch would “pay the price” if they decided a different case against the leader’s wishes. “This kind of inflammatory rhetoric is toxic to our democratic system of government,” the letter argued.
After celebrating the opinion for returning decisions about abortion back to the states, the letter further cited Schumer’s failure to “renounce” Democrats’ calls for court packing and nuking the filibuster. “Make no mistake: these are tactics of authoritarian leaders. Dictators change the rules and shatter norms when they cannot achieve their political goals through the democratic process,” said the letter.
In closing, the senators called on Schumer “to make very clear to the American people that all threats and intimidation tactics against our Supreme Court justices are abhorrent.”
“We further urge you to pledge that you will respect the independence of the Supreme Court, regardless of how it rules in Dobbs, and that you will refrain from trying to exert political pressure to influence the decisions of the Court,” they added.