A group of Republican senators introduced a resolution Thursday to formally rebuke Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer over his threatening rhetoric against two Trump-appointed Supreme Court justices.
Sen. Josh Hawley, Missouri Republican, sponsored a motion to censure the New Yorker, calling on senators to respect the independence of the judiciary. Censure is a formal reprimand condemning the remarks.
Mr. Hawley told reporters he “hopes” his motion will get a vote, but Majority Whip John Thune, South Dakota Republican, said it would first have to move through committee.
“Our members are going to continue to point out that this is what you get if you get a Democratic majority,” Mr. Thune said. “They are going to want to reshape the court. They have talked openly about adding seats to the Supreme Court, so I think it will be something our members will probably address that way.”
The back-and-forth between Republicans and Mr. Schumer began after the New York Democrat rallied pro-choice activists outside the Supreme Court Wednesday while the justices heard arguments over a Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Critics of the law say it is only aimed at burdening a woman’s access to abortion.
Directing his comments to Justice Neil M. Gorsuch and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, Mr. Schumer said, “You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You will not know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”
The comment spurred Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to issue a rare public statement rebuking the senator.
“Justices knows 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,” he said.
“All Members of the Court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter,” the chief justice concluded.
The next day, Mr. Schumer said he was simply defending a woman’s right to choose, but admitted he should have been more careful with his language.
“I feel so passionately about this issue,” the New York Democrat said on the chamber floor, arguing that Senate Republicans have worked to tear down Roe v. Wade by confirming conservative judges under President Trump.
“I should not have used the words I used yesterday,” Mr. Schumer said. “They did not come out the way I intended them to. My point was there would be political consequences for President Trump and Senate Republicans if the Supreme Court and newly confirmed justices stripped away a woman’s right to choose.”
Mr. Hawley took to Twitter to slam Mr. Schumer for not issuing a formal apology.
“Schumer refusing to take responsibility. This non-apology is the equivalent of ‘I’m sorry you feel that way.’ He threatened #SupremeCourt Justices. Personally. By name. He should be censured,” the Missouri Republican tweeted.
The other GOP senators joining the resolution were Mike Braun of Indiana, Rick Scott of Florida, Steve Daines of Montana, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, Ted Cruz of Texas, David Perdue of Georgia, Mike Lee of Utah, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Tim Scott of South Carolina and Martha McSally of Arizona.