Today, the Minority Leader of the United States Senate stood outside the Supreme Court at a rally and threatened, by name, two sitting members of that Court. 

“I want to tell you, Gorsuch. I want to tell you, Kavanaugh. You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price,” Senator Schumer warned.

“You will not know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”

Whatever one thinks of the merits of the legal debate going on inside the courtroom at the time—the Court was considering a Louisiana law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges to nearby hospitals—Senator Schumer’s remarks were out of line.

So much so that, in a highly unusual statement, Chief Justice Roberts issued a stinging rebuke. While “justices know that criticism comes with the territory,” the Chief wrote, “threatening statements … from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous.” 

None less than Harvard Law professor and liberal icon Lawrence Tribe agreed, tweeting the following:

The Chief Justice and Professor Tribe do not often see eye to eye, and their agreement here exposes the seriousness of Senator Schumer’s statements.  The Minority Leader’s words were not only inappropriate, but also a direct assault on the independence of the judiciary. Having lost at the ballot box, Senator Schumer is now resorting to threats in an attempt to sway the way the justices will rule on a politically-polarizing case.  Thankfully, the Framers had the foresight to give federal judges life-tenure in order to insulate them from political pressures, not to mention direct threats.