Schumer walks back words he used on Supreme Court justices

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump slams Sessions: 'You had no courage & ruined many lives' Senate Democrats call on Trump administration to let Planned Parenthood centers keep PPP loans States, companies set up their own COVID-19 legal shields MORE (D-N.Y.) said on Thursday that he "shouldn't have used the words" he did when he said that two Supreme Court justices would "pay the price" for their decisions on abortion rights cases.

The remarks about Justices Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughTara Reade's lawyer says dropping her as client not a reflection on her Biden claims Conservative group launches campaign accusing Democrats of hypocrisy on Kavanuagh, Biden Death row inmates ask for stay while they appeal to Supreme Court MORE and Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchDeath row inmates ask for stay while they appeal to Supreme Court Appeals court rejects request to rehear challenge to federal execution Supreme Court divided over fight for Trump's financial records   MORE had sparked an outpouring of GOP criticism and a rebuke from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

"Now I should not have used the words I used yesterday," Schumer said in remarks from the Senate floor.

ADVERTISEMENT

"They did not come out the way I intended to. My point was that there would be political consequences, political consequences for President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden slams Trump in new ad: 'The death toll is still rising.' 'The president is playing golf' Brazil surpasses Russia with second-highest coronavirus case count in the world Trump slams Sessions: 'You had no courage & ruined many lives' MORE and Senate Republicans if the Supreme Court ... stripped away a women's right to choose."

His comments come as Republicans have raced to lash out at the Democratic leader after he warned the two conservatives justices that they would "pay the price" if they voted against abortion rights.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I want to tell you, Justice Kavanaugh and Justice Gorsuch, you have unleashed a whirlwind, and you will pay the price,” Schumer said at a rally on Wednesday. “You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”

Justices heard arguments Wednesday on a Louisiana abortion law that could see the court revisit the protections that emerged in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

Republicans have characterized Schumer's comments as a "threat." They earned him a rare rebuke from Roberts and a threat of a censure attempt by Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyTrust in big government? Try civics education The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mnuchin sees 'strong likelihood' of another relief package; Warner says some businesses 'may not come back' at The Hill's Advancing America's Economy summit GOP senators: More relief needed now MORE (R-Mo.).

But Schumer hit back at the GOP criticism saying he didn't mean to imply a physical threat and "it is a gross distortion to imply otherwise."

"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," he said.