Schumer says he misspoke about conservative justices: 'I should not have used the words I used'

Nicholas Wu, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he misspoke Wednesday in comments about conservative justices on the Supreme Court that had enraged Republicans. 

"I should not have used the words I used yesterday. They did not come out the way I intended to," Schumer said.  

Schumer said his point was that there would be "political consequences" for President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans "if the Supreme Court, with newly confirmed justices, stripped away a woman’s right to choose. Of course, I did not intend to suggest anything other than political and public opinion consequences for the Supreme Court, and it is a gross distortion to imply otherwise."

“I’m from Brooklyn. We speak in strong language," he quipped. 

More: Chief Justice John Roberts scolds Chuck Schumer for 'threatening statements' against Gorsuch, Kavanaugh

In a speech outside the Supreme Court Wednesday before the high court heard oral argument in an abortion case, Schumer said two Trump-appointed justices, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, would "pay the price" if they "go forward with these awful decisions" about abortion law. 

More: Deeply divided Supreme Court debates limits on abortion providers

Schumer's remarks drew a rare rebuke from Chief Justice John Roberts and an uproar from Senate Republicans.

In a statement, Roberts said the justices on the Supreme Court "will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter."

In a speech before Schumer's on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., slammed Schumer's remarks' as "astonishingly reckless and completely irresponsible.”

McConnell called on Schumer to withdraw his remarks and apologize, though he did not mention a resolution proposed by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., to censure Schumer. 

"If any American had these words shouted at them from a sidewalk outside their office, they would hear those threats as personal. And most likely they would hear them as threatening or inciting violence," McConnell said. 

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives to censure Schumer, though it is unlikely to gain much traction in the Democrat-controlled body. 

In a Thursday tweet, President Donald Trump accused Schumer of bringing "great danger" to the steps of the United States Supreme Court. 

Trump himself was heavily criticized for comments he made in late February accusing Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, membersof the high court's liberal wing, of bias against him and calling on them to recuse themselves from cases involving him.

“Justice Ginsburg should [recuse herself] because she went wild during the campaign when I was running," Trump tweeted at the time.

More: Trump: Supreme Court Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg should recuse themselves from cases involving him

Contributing: Jeanine Santucci 

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chuck Schumer: I misspoke about conservative Supreme Court justices