Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is the center of several ethics complaints after his controversial comments pointing toward Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
In the days after Schumer’s remarks at an abortion rights rally outside the court building, with some statements others can refer to as threats, complaints were sent to the Senate Ethics Committee and the New York bar’s Grievance Committee, saying that the Democratic leader’s remarks violated ethics rules.
In a letter that Attorney Joseph Gioconda sent to New York’s Grievance Committee for the Second Judicial District, he wrote:
“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.”
At an event by the Center for Reproductive Rights as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case about a Louisiana abortion law, Schumer had given a warning to the two justices appointed by President Trump.
“I want to tell you, Gorsuch. I want to tell you, Kavanaugh. You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price!”
“You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”
Chief Justice John Roberts responded quickly, calling Schumer’s words “inappropriate” and “dangerous,” as Schumer saying Roberts was being biased in his response.
The National Legal Policy Center filed complaints with the New York bar and the Senate Ethics Committee Friday, asking for discipline both for Schumer’s statements at the rally and for calling into question Roberts’ motives for his response.
Their complaint stated Schumer violated Senate ethics rules by exhibiting “improper conduct which may reflect upon the Senate.” The NLPC also said Schumer violated New York’s Rules of Professional Conduct through “conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.”
The NLPC referenced condemnation from conservatives and liberals, mentioning a tweet from Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe that called Schumer’s language “inexcusable,” as well as condemnation on the Senate floor by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who stated, “There is nothing to call this except a threat.”
Schumer replied to McConnell by saying he should not have used the words he used and that it just didn’t come out the way he intended it to. However, Schumer did not apologize but excused himself by saying:
“I’m from Brooklyn. We speak in strong language.”
The NLPC’s complaint claims that Schumer’s statement was unsatisfactory.
The complaint read:
“It strains credulity to believe that, regardless of his Brooklyn pedigree, Sen. Schumer, who is a Harvard-educated lawyer, Senator minority leader, and vocal opponent of both Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, did not intend to choose the exact words he spoke as he turned and pointed to the Supreme Court behind him to further emphasize his point.”
“In short, his non-apology is a lame excuse for inexcusable conduct.”
Meanwhile, on Thursday, The Landmark Legal Foundation, chaired by Mark Levin, filed their own complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee.
The complaint read:
“The Senate must immediately reprimand, if not censure, Sen. Schumer for his outrageous and dangerous attack on Supreme Court Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.”
It also claimed that Schumer’s statements may have constituted improper conduct which may reflect upon the Senate.
Both Landmark’s and NLPC’s complaints also posed possible violations of federal law for threatening an officer of the court.
These complaints resulted in the introduction of a resolution from Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., asking for Schumer to be censured, and a letter to the Senate signed by dozens of respected conservative leaders calling for censure.