‘Partisan Republican’ John Roberts accused of ‘selective outrage’ in response to Chuck Schumer’s remarks on Trump-appointed justices
John Roberts -- Screenshot

This week, U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts has been highly critical of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for comments on President Donald Trump’s two High Court nominees: Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Justice Neil Gorsuch. But Roberts is being accused of “selective outrage” in light of some of the things far-right blowhards have said against Supreme Court justices in the past.

On Wednesday, March 4, the Supreme Court began hearing arguments in a case involving a Louisiana anti-abortion law — which requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges. And Schumer, at a rally in Washington, D.C., declared, “They’re taking away fundamental rights. 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.”

In response, Roberts asserted, “Justices know 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. All members of the Court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.”

But Schumer’s rhetoric was downright tame compared to what the Rev. R.L. Hymers (a far-right Christian fundamentalist based in Los Angeles) had to say about Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun back in 1987: Hymers encouraged his congregation to pray for Blackmun’s death because of his support of Roe v. Wade. Hymers went after pro-choice Justice William Brennan as well, hiring a plane to tow a banner that read, “Pray for death: baby-killer Brennan.”

Law & Crime reporter Colin Kalmbacher, in an article published on March 4, discusses some Roberts critics who believe he is being quite hypocritical.

Brian Fallon, founder of Demand Justice, asserted, “What selective outrage from Roberts,” adding that the chief justice “had zero to say in defense of” his “Democratic-appointed colleagues,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “when Trump attacked them last month.”

Fallon was referring to a tweet in which Trump posted, “Sotomayor accuses GOP appointed Justices of being biased in favor of Trump. This is a terrible thing to say. Trying to ‘shame’ some into voting her way? She never criticized Justice Ginsburg [sic] when she called me a ‘faker’. Both should recuse themselves on all Trump, or Trump related, matters!”

Ilyse Hogue, an abortion rights activist, noted that Schumer’s rhetoric echoed Kavanaugh’s rant during his confirmation hearings in 2018 — when Kavanaugh expressed his rage over the sexual misconduct allegations he was facing.

Hogue tweeted, “Faux outrage directed at @SenSchumer for literally quoting Brett Kavanaugh falls flat when these same people who are so appalled fail to register any concern for a president who routinely threatens people from the largest platform in the world. Spare us the crocodile tears.”

Jamison Foser, a liberal/progressive communications strategist, asserted, “John Roberts is a partisan, his outrage is fake and partisan, the selective nature of it is evidence of that, and reporters should cover his statement accordingly. John Roberts cast the deciding vote in striking down the Voting Rights Act, because he is a partisan Republican who shares his party’s preference for making it hard for black people to vote. Not really interested in lectures from him about what’s ‘dangerous’ in a democracy.”

Politico’s David Freedlander saw a double standard, tweeting, “Did Roberts defend Sotomayor and RBG, or issue a similar statement, when Trump made up accusations against them based on something he saw on Fox News?”

Author David Rothkopf weighed in as well, writing, “I’m afraid this is the year that the thin veneer of non-partisanship that somehow the Chief Justice has been able to maintain despite his record is once and for all obliterated. This statement in the wake of silence over Trump attacks is pure, poisonous partisanship.”