Schumer’s Threats, in Context

Democrat Charles Schumer, speaking to “protestors” outside the Supreme Court: “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.”

This statement was clearly a threat, but what kind of threat? Perhaps a direct physical threat, but more likely, I think, a threat to subject the two justices to the kind of orchestrated slander campaign that was already unleashed against Justice Kavanaugh; a slander campaign the would result in great emotional pain to the Justices and their families and great disruption to the operations of the Court.

The crowd to which Schumer was speaking is typically referred to as “protestors” in news reports, but what are they protesting? No decision has been made in this case. Evidently they are protesting the willingness of the Court to even consider the arguments made by the two sides in this case.

I’d call them a mob. Judge Andrew Napolitano, who does not believe Schumer’s statement violated any laws, nevertheless called the statement an “effort to politicize the court, to make them look like they can be intimidated by a mob outside of the courthouse.”

The present-day Democratic Party together with its media/academic/activist archipelago has become quite friendly toward mob action and mob intimidation. One especially appalling event was the attempt to shut down law professor Josh Blackman’s talk at the City University of New York law school. When Blackman said the way to deal with a law you don’t like is to change the law…

A student shouted out “[expletive] the law.” This comment stunned me. I replied, “[expletive] the law? That’s a very odd thing. You are all in law school. And it is a bizarre thing to say [expletive] the law when you are in law school.” They all started to yell and shout over me.

There has been an awful lot of this sort of thing, and it seems to have been increasing exponentially over the last several years.


In 2016, Scott Adams wrote:

I’ve been trying to figure out what common trait binds Clinton supporters together. As far as I can tell, the most unifying characteristic is a willingness to bully in all its forms.

If you have a Trump sign in your lawn, they will steal it.

If you have a Trump bumper sticker, they will deface your car.

if you speak of Trump at work you could get fired.

On social media, almost every message I get from a Clinton supporter is a bullying type of message. They insult. They try to shame. They label. And obviously they threaten my livelihood.

But this behavior was by no means limited to Hillary Clinton supporters, and it today pervades the “progressive” Left. A political movement that engages in widespread bullying attracts new members who are bullies: for a certain kind of person, there is great pleasure in exercising rage and cruelty toward other people while operating under the protection of a political or religious banner that yields feelings of virtue.

I don’t think most Progs are necessarily cruel people, but I do think that an increasing number of cruel people are being attracted to their cause; also, some of the non-cruel progs are being drawn into acts of cruelty. See John dos Passos on Conformity, Cruelty, and Political Activism. See also Goethe’s Gretchen (in Faust), repenting having been drawn into the mocking and humiliation of unmarried pregnant girls:

How readily I used to blame
Some poor young soul that came to shame!
Never found sharp enough words like pins
To stick into other people’s sins
Black as it seemed, I tarred it to boot
And never black enough to suit
Would cross myself, exclaim and preen–
Now I myself am bared to sin!

There’s a lot of this “sharp enough words like pins to stick in other people’s sins,” combined with the pleasure of preening, going on today. And many if not most practitioners thereof will, unlike Gretchen, never repent. Cruelty under cover of virtuous feelings is a huge factor in today’s politics.

I am also reminded of something said by Sebastian Haffner, in his memoir of life in Germany between the wars. When Hitler became Chancellor in early 1933, Haffner working as a junior lawyer (refendar) in the Prussian High Court, the Kammergericht. He was comforted by the continuity of the legal process:

The newspapers might report that the constitution was in ruins. Here every paragraph of the Civil Code was still valid and was mulled over and analyzed as carefully as ever…. The Chancellor could daily utter the vilest abuse against the Jews; there was nonetheless still a Jewish Kammergerichtsrat (high court judge) and member of our senate who continued to give his astute and careful judgments, and these judgments had the full weight of the law and could set the entire apparatus of the state in motion for their enforcement–even if the highest office-holder of that state daily called their author a ‘parasite’, a ‘subhuman’ or a ‘plague’.

But things soon changed: the Nazis came to the Kammergericht and enforced their new way of doing things:

It was strange to sit in the Kammergericht again, the same courtroom, the same seats, acting as if nothing had happened. The same ushers stood at the doors and ensured, as ever, that the dignity of the court was not disturbed. Even the judges were for the most part the same people. Of course, the Jewish judge was no longer there. He had not even been dismissed. He was an old gentleman and had served under the Kaiser, so he had been moved to an administrative position at some Amtsgericht (lower court). His position on the senate was taken by an open-faced, blond young Amtsgerichtsrat, with glowing cheeks, who did not seem to belong among the grave Kammergerichtsrats…It was whispered that in private the newcomer was something high up in the SS.

The new judge didn’t seem to know much about law, but asserted his points in a “fresh, confident voice.”

We Refendars, who had just passed our exams, exchanged looks while he expounded. At last the president of the senate remarked with perfect politeness, ‘Colleague, could it be that you have overlooked paragraph 816 of the Civil Code?’ At which the new high court judge looked embarrassed…leafed through his copy of the code and then admitted lightly, ‘Oh, yes. Well, then it’s just the other way around.’ Those were the triumphs of the older law.

There were, however, other cases–cases in which the newcomer did not back down…stating that here the paragraph of the law must yield precedence; he would instruct his co-judges that the meaning was more important than the letter of the law…Then, with the gesture of a romantic stage hero, he would insist on some untenable decision. It was piteous to observe the faces of the older Kammergerichtsrats as this went on. They looked at their notes with an expression of indescribable dejection, while their fingers nervously twisted a paper-clip or a piece of blotting paper. They were used to failing candidates for the Assessor examination for spouting the kind of nonsense that was now being presented as the pinnacle of wisdom; but now this nonsense was backed by the full power of the state, by the threat of dismissal for lack of national reliability, loss of livelihood, the concentration camp…They begged for a little understanding for the Civil Code and tried to save what they could.

I’m afraid kind of court is what is desired by much of the “progressive” movement and much of the mainstream Democratic Party. They are not interested in the kind of “astute and careful” judgments that had been made by the senior judge of whom Haffner wrote; much more are they in tune with the new judge’s assertion that “the paragraph of the law must yield precedence … that the meaning was more important than the letter of the law.” Sometimes, the Democrats/”Progressives” even make such assertions with the gesture of a romantic stage hero.

The extreme danger to America that would result from any increase in the political power of the Democrats and their archipelago becomes more clear every day.

(also posted at Ricochet)

13 thoughts on “Schumer’s Threats, in Context”

  1. For a time, Lefties were happy to use the Supreme Court and the Law as a way to get around the messy business of winning public support and making reasonable compromises in Congress. Roe vs Wade is the classic example, but far from the only one.

    Now, Lefties have moved beyond that. If they don’t like a law, they ignore it — and do so with impunity. “Sanctuary Cities” are a good example, but again far from the only one.

    After decades of excessive legislation and regulation, every one of us breaks some rule or regulation every day. But only some of us get to be prosecuted with the full force of the law, while others commit obvious crimes without any suggestion of prosecution — and that is not just Hillary!

    The issue which is yet to be addressed is — What happens when the branch the Lefties have already sawn half-way through breaks? What happens when the rest of us decide to treat the Law with the same contempt that Lefties already do?

  2. I think what we see is classic fascism with the violence still coming.

    Their causes are silly, like global warming, but they have no hesitation in imposing their will by force.

    In an end run around Republican legislators, Oregon’s Democratic governor ordered the state on Tuesday to lower greenhouse gas emissions, directing a state agency to set and enforce caps on pollution from industry and transportation fuels.

    Gov. Kate Brown’s sweeping executive order, one of the boldest in the nation, aims to reduce carbon emissions to at least 45% below 1990 levels by 2035 and an 80% reduction from 1990 levels by 2050. It more than doubles a clean fuels program, making it the most ambitious goal for clean fuels in the country, Brown said at a news conference.

    This is not based on science but they claim science by political allies, many of whom have no credentials. They drove Judith Curry, a real scientist, out of academia.

    The physical attacks aren coming, especially in Portland where they have already occurred.

  3. I have thought a lot about the reasons for such hostility that the Left has – while one would like to say it started with Trump but it really goes back (in my lifetime) to Reagan. Look at how they have treated every Republican President.

    Look at the reception Jean Kirkpatrick got in Berkeley.

    I think Trump has garnered such vitriol because he has largely undone what Obama enacted by executive fiat. When they realized that Hillary would have just solidified the push Obama had, that brings out their rage.

    But I am sure getting sick of their tactics and uncivilty.

  4. With Reagan, Congress was still in Democrat hands. The Boland Amendment was an attempt to run foreign policy. The Iran-Contra thing was close to an attempt to impeach Reagan over the foreign policy differences. Remember that Dodd and Kennedy were seeking help from the communists to thwart Reagan. The majority of Democrats were still sane, however, and it did not go beyond that.

    I think the Democrat Party lost its collective mind in 2000 with the Bush/Gore election. The 1994 election put Republicans in charge of Congress but they were the “Ruling Class” types of Codevilla’s essay.

    When Bush won the 2000 election, it put the whole government in GOP hands. They went nuts.

  5. one would like to say it started with Trump but it really goes back (in my lifetime) to Reagan.separate

    LBJ, doncha know? Smothers Brothers in PrimeTime and not only on VietNam but deportations, union “busting” and NASA… They disagrred therefore the president was evil and stupid and heartless.

  6. I grew up in Miami, which was the nexus of the Nicaraguan resistance, the likes of john Kerry and the christics institute, were spinning their tales, the former accepted really odious people, like the cartel accountant, to defame the supporters of same, in return for sentence recommendation, the latter headed by Daniel sheehan, the same guy behind pfc Nathan phillips, mostly worked their narrative in Hollywood, above the law, (with a thinly disguised john Kerry as heroic figure ) lethal weapon, were examples of their work,

  7. [Expletive!] the Law?

    They should remember how many “Deplorables” are out there, looking for something to hang over the fireplace in their mobile home. Many people seem to “tolerate” the Law, due to the alternatives. Take away [Expletive!] The Law and there are only the alternatives.

    Amateur “Mob Control” is always very, very messy. A lot of us are here (US) since our Grandparents’ generation saw their family/village/profession/class murdered by the mob. We grew up waiting for that mob to return.

    And there is that bare spot on the wall …….

  8. Take away trust in “the law” – when the ordinary folk no longer trust the “law” to discipline the criminal class? After a time, you get an organised vigilante set to go after the criminal class. Not a mob, per se – but a disciplined, well-organized organization. Going after the criminals.
    When lawful folk no longer trust the apparatus of the state … they tend to do what they do best … organize and administer law.

  9. SGT. Mom:

    It is not only when the ordinary folk do not trust “the law” to discipline the criminal class. When the ordinary folk, Deplorables if you will, reach the conclusion that the law is primarily an instrument of oppression intended to be used against law abiding ordinary folk as a matter of course . . .

    If those who rule are not bound by the Constitution or the law, what bounds restrain the ruled? q.v. Thomas Hobbes’ LEVIATHAN.

    Subotai Bahadur

  10. Oh dear – Schumer threatens to engage in politics as usual and direct some ire at the Supreme Court. Harsh words and stern looks – can the rule of law survive?

    Whilst I agree that Schumer and his crew of felons is not the most likely place to look for any reform of the failing institutions of the law, can we perhaps loosen our clutch on our pearls and admit that criticism of judges is not a challenge to the rule of law. Exempting criticism of judges from the scope of the First Amendment is a far greater danger.

    There are lazy, incompetent, biased, corrupt and senile judges on the benches. Article Three institutions shouldn’t be exempt from any review. Everyone else goes through regular reviews and there’s no time like the present.

  11. Gavin Longmuir says: What happens when the rest of us decide to treat the Law with the same contempt that Lefties already do?

    You get Donald Trump. It’s been obvious for a while now that “the rule of law” only applies to some of us and when the law applies only to some it applies to none.

    I’m sure you’ve seen articles from time to time about various agencies buying large amounts of guns and ammunition when there’s no apparent reason for them to be doing so, but when you couple their enforcement arms with the Auer and Chevron deference cases wherein the Supreme Court has said it’s not their place to be second-guessing the decisions of the executive branch agencies in interpreting their own rules, the executive branch agencies have become a law unto themselves.

    Oh, sure, they don’t actually create laws, merely rules and regulations, which is why you face civil penalties rather than criminal, but time was when the EPA or OSHA or whoever wanted to enforce a decision, they had to involve the courts or the guys with guns over at the DoJ who might be able to second-guess their enforcement decisions. Now, they have their own guns and their own judges – there’s nobody to act as a check on their unilateral decisions. And try telling a businessman who has run afoul of some obscure and vague provision of the voluminous rules and regulations of some agency that a ruinous fine isn’t a criminal punishment but merely a civil penalty. It’s really not going to cheer him up.

    And that goes to the heart of the problem – the social contract, like any other contract, relies on the informed consent of both parties to the agreement and if you think for one second anybody here can claim to understand the myriad terms and conditions of the laws the government has laid upon us enough to be said to have given their informed consent to the law, you’re out of your cotton-picking mind. Nobody has agreed to this bureaucratic Leviathan spawned in the deepest, darkest, foulest, most odoriferous parts of the swamp in Washington, DC and nobody has any obligation to be bound by contracts they have not agreed to.

  12. Gavin Longmuir Says:
    For a time, Lefties were happy to use the Supreme Court and the Law

    I disagree. they were happy to abuse the Courts and the Law.

    Mike K Says:
    I think what we see is classic fascism with the violence still coming.

    Oh, the violence is here. It’s just not pervasive, except in a few locales, at this point.

    Mike-SMO Says:
    And there is that bare spot on the wall …….


    Sgt. Mom Says:
    When lawful folk no longer trust the apparatus of the state … they tend to do what they do best … organize and administer law.

    Here’s the thing: that’s the natural state according to the Founders. Setting up a law apparatus is an exercise of the power of the people. Setting and enforcing the law is the duty of the demos, and a legislature and police force are merely ways to streamline the responsibility. It’s up to the people to rein in the apparatus they have constructed.
    And yes, there’s a difference between what we would call “mob justice” and true vigilantism. The “mob justice” is done without the deliberation and adherence to real justice. Vigilantism is simply the people exercising their due power.

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