EDITORIAL: Schumer should step down after making Trumpian threats against justices

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Few other than President Donald Trump have shown the nation that words matter.

Setting aside the president’s voracious appetite for lies and deception, Trump has become the gold-standard for illustrating the difference between misspeaking and malfeasance.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has now joined Trump’s Hall of Shame and should step down from his leadership position.

The issue is important to Colorado and Aurora voters because we are about to decide a new Colorado member of the Senate. Both the issue of abortion and the behavior of senators will pay an important part of that election process, now underway.

In front of the Supreme Court last week, during a heated speech about protecting the reproductive rights of American women, Schumer told a crowd of hundreds that Americans would fight against court-imposed restrictions by conservative justices, if that were to occur.

Schumer was passionate. Schumer’s push to not back down on these critical rights to privacy and reproduction were right on. What he said, however, was ghastly, erroneous and unforgivable.

Schumer directed clear threats toward Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh,two justices who should never have been appointed to the high court, but who were properly installed by Trump and the Senate.

“You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price,” Schumer told the crowd. “You will not know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”

Beyond regrettable or inappropriate, the threats were dead wrong on several levels.

First, there should never be a backlash by the Senate for Supreme Court decisions, or opinions made by justices, for differing of opinion. The Senate has one lever to pull in regards to a sitting justice: impeachment.

If Schumer is threatening to impeach Gorsuch and Kavanaugh over repugnant abortion rights votes and opinions, he is catastrophically out of line. Schumer, who leads minority Democrats in the Senate, are in no position to make any such threat, regardless of how dangerous it is. They don’t have the votes. And if Schumer is sending a dog-whistle to abortion rights activists saying that a Democratic Senate would work to impeach Trump’s Supreme Court choices, he has no business sitting in the Senate, let alone leading it.

In essence, other than complain or pass legislation, Schumer nor any other senator has the power to do anything about the opinions of Kavanaugh or Gorsuch, no matter how much they disagree with them.

Being on the wrong side of critical issues such as abortion rights is not an impeachable offense. More importantly, Schumer’s threats carried a dark and unmistakable tone of violence to them, something that Schumer has rightfully criticized Trump for in the past. It shows a galling lack of understanding, responsibility and decency by both men. Violating such common decency standards is unequivocally grounds for forfeiting a leading roll in government.

Everyone, however, can make mistakes, even egregious ones like those made by Trump and Schumer. Neither have apologized for making their dangerous demands for vengeance.

When his remarks rightfully ignited nationwide and bi-partisan outrage, Schumer sealed the argument for him to step down as minority leader.

He said the backlash was overblown.

“I’m from Brooklyn, we speak in strong language,” Schumer said. “I shouldn’t have used the words I did, but in no way was I making a threat. I never, never would do such a thing. And Leader McConnell knows that, and Republicans who are busy manufacturing outrage over these comments know that, too.”

They were threatening, and they did invoke a threat. When Schumer had a chance to take back his remarks and apologize, he pulled a Trump instead.

“I feel so deeply, the anger of women all across America,” Schumer said. “About Senate Republicans and the courts, working hand in glove to take down Roe v Wade.”

We do, too. This is absolutely not the way to protect women’s reproductive rights. Threatening sitting justices and hinting that he would use his power as senate minority leader to remove them will not win the case nor the argument.
Schumer, like Trump, injured his reputation by making such outlandish and vile comments. He mortally wounded his credibility by rationalizing rather than apologizing when he had the opportunity.

Like Trump, he has forfeited his leadership, even if he remains in the post. Like Trump, he should step aside for qualified leaders to take their places before voters make that decision for them.