Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Thursday expressed regret that he “used the words I used yesterday” in warning Supreme Court Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch of the public backlash their reproductive rights rulings will produce. While Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) proclaimed, “There is nothing to call this except a threat,” more than a dozen GOP Senators called for the chamber to censure Senator Schumer. Predictably, McConnell’s right-hand man, GOP Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) expressed his outrage:

“The last thing we need is one of the most powerful men in the country to make a threat against Supreme Court justices. It doesn't matter whether you're a fourth grader on the playground or a United States senator, our lesson should be that violence is never the answer and that words matter.”

That Cornyn’s response was so predictable made it all the more disgusting. After all, it was the same Senator John Cornyn who in 2005 warned that “unaccountable” judges “making political decisions” leads to a boiling point “where some people engage in, engage in violence.” And in 2016, a still unrepentant John Cornyn promised any nominee President Obama selected to replace the late Antonin Scalia “will bear some resemblance to a piñata” when the Republican majority was through with them.

Long before his tough talk about the beat-down any Democratic pick to the Supreme Court would suffer at the hands of Senate Republicans, John Cornyn was an outspoken foe of the judicial filibuster and so-called “activist” judges. Of course, back then the President of the United States was Republican George W. Bush.

And in 2005, one of the pet causes of Bush and his Republican allies was federal intervention in the case of Terri Schiavo. As you may recall, with his wife Terri in a “persistent vegetative state,” Michael Schiavo wanted to honor her wishes and have her disconnected from life support. But when her parents disagreed, the GOP’s best and brightest supported them in court. They lost in each and every court, including in the Supreme Court, which invalidated a bill passed by Congress and signed by President Bush forbidding Schiavo’s doctors from ending life support treatment. After their final defeat on March 31, 2005, then-House Majority Leader Tom Delay (who had previously sought successfully to have his own comatose father disconnected from life support) ominously warned “unaccountable, arrogant, out-of-control judiciary that thumbed their nose at Congress and the president.”

“This loss happened because our legal system did not protect the people who need protection most, and that will change. The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior.” [Emphasis mine.]

  • March 7, 2020
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