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Political incitement has consequences

Jim Geraghty, National Review

How did we get to the point where some unhinged raging maniac would show up at the home of a Supreme Court justice with a gun? It is the foreseeable consequence of too many of our political leaders treating the emotions of fear and anger as convenient tools to get what they want.

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, while speaking on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building, March 4, 2020:

I want to tell you [Justice] Gorsuch, I want to tell you [Justice] Kavanaugh, you have unleashed the whirlwind and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.

Chief Justice John Roberts, the following day:

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.

In a subsequent statement responding to Roberts, Schumer said his remarks “were a reference to the political price Senate Republicans will pay for putting these justices on the court, and warning that the justices will unleash a major grassroots movement on the issue of reproductive rights.”

But that ensuing spin was obviously a lie. Schumer didn’t threaten that Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans would pay the price or wouldn’t know what hit them; he specifically directed his remarks to Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. The New York senator knew he had screwed up by directly threatening the justices with harm, so he pretended he had not said what everyone had heard him say. Few people in the national news really thought much of Schumer’s remarks, and they were largely forgotten. Look at that date again — within a week or so, the Covid-19 pandemic shut down the world.

But Schumer’s comment — spurred by a case involving a Louisiana law that would restrict access to abortion services — looks spectacularly reckless in light of Wednesday’s news:

A man with a gun and a knife was detained by police early Wednesday near the Maryland home of Brett M. Kavanaugh after making threats against the Supreme Court justice, according to local and federal officials.

Nicholas John Roske, 26, of Simi Valley, Calif., was charged with attempted murder of a Supreme Court justice after he called authorities and said he was having suicidal thoughts and wanted to kill a specific justice, according to federal prosecutors.

Dan McLaughlin lays out the continuing waves of intimidation, rage, and threats directed at particular Supreme Court justices:

In September 2021, a mob of pro-abortion protesters from “ShutDownDC” descended upon Justice Kavanaugh’s home over the Texas abortion-law case. Then, we had the unprecedented leak of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion in Dobbs, which would overturn Roe v. Wade. In the aftermath, a pro-abortion group “RuthSentUs” publicly shared maps to the homes of the six Republican-appointed justices, and sent protests there to intimidate the justices. We learned that “law enforcement agencies are investigating social-media threats to burn down or storm the Supreme Court building and murder justices and their clerks,” yet Democrats such as Schumer and Anne Kuster dismissed the mob threat to the Court as no big deal. The Biden White House pointedly refused to condemn either the leak or the targeting of homes, with Jen Psaki saying that “the president’s view is that there’s a lot of passion, a lot of fear, a lot of sadness from many, many people across this country about what they saw in that leaked document” and that “I know that there’s an outrage right now, I guess, about protests that have been peaceful to date, and we certainly do continue to encourage that, outside judges’ homes, and that’s the president’s position.” As protests escalated, churches were vandalized, and a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a pro-life office, Psaki finally allowed that “that should never include violence, threats, or vandalism. Judges perform an incredibly important function in our society, and they must be able to do their jobs without concern for their personal safety.”

Protests at a judge’s home are already illegal under federal law, but the Biden administration made no move to prosecute the protesters, again on the theory that breaking federal law in a political protest in D.C. is no big deal. A bipartisan bill to beef up security for the justices unanimously passed the Senate, but Nancy Pelosi blocked it in the House. Meanwhile, violence by the group “Jane’s Revenge” has escalated, including just last night, firebombing a crisis pregnancy center in Buffalo.

On Wednesday, groups such as Ruth Sent Us revealed their uncontrollable compulsion to announce to the world that they had learned nothing from recent events — calling Kavanaugh “an abusive alcoholic” in their “thoughts and prayers” tweet to Justice Kavanaugh and his wife, while announcing that the Thursday “Voice Your Anger” protest directed at Justice Amy Coney Barrett would continue to meet in front of Lemon Road Elementary School in Falls Church, Va. Say, has anything happened lately that might make people particularly worried about someone angry and potentially unhinged hanging around an elementary school?

Read more at National Review.

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1 thought on “Political incitement has consequences

  • The fact you typed this entire post without even referencing that a Trump-supporting maniac didn’t just show up with a gun, but actually executed a judge in rural Wisconsin last week, and had a hit list to do the same to Evers, Whitmer, and McConnell is the definition of the sin of omission.

    But I’m sure your next post will be about how unconscionable it was the Trump said his follower “maybe had the right idea” to hang Mike Pence.

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