(CNSNews.com) - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), speaking on the Senate floor Thursday morning, rebuked Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) for threatening two Supreme Court justices by name.
A short time later, Schumer defended himself, denying any intention to threaten: "I'm from Brooklyn," he said. "We speak in strong language."
No matter what Schumer intended, "words carrying the apparent threat of violence can have horrific unintended consequences," McConnell said:
By now, many already know what the Democratic leader shouted outside the Supreme Court yesterday morning. I'm sorry to have to read it into the record.
First, he prompted a crowd of left-wing activists to boo two of the Associate Justices, as though Supreme Court Justices were professional athletes and Senator Schumer were jeering from the stands.
And then the senior senator from New York said this: "I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you've released a whirlwind, and you -- you will pay the price. You won't know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions," end quote.
McConnell said there's no other way to characterize Schumer's remarks except as a threat.
"Contrary to what the Democratic leader has since tried to claim, he very, very clearly was not addressing Republican lawmakers or anyone else. He literally directed the statement to the justices by name, and he said, quote, "If you go forward with these awful decisions," which could only apply to the court itself.
"The minority leader of the United States Senate threatened two associate justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, period. There's no other way to interpret that...The Democratic leader traveled to the workplace of the two judges, and in front of a crowd of activists, he told those judges you will pay the price, right in front of the Supreme Court building. And you won't know what hit you, he said, right in front of the Supreme Court building."
McConnell said most Americans would take those threats as both serious and personal.
McConnell also warned that "a Senate leader appearing to threaten or incite violence on the steps of the Supreme Court could literally be a matter of deadly seriousness," given the thousands of threats aimed at the judiciary.
"So I would suggest that my Democratic colleagues spend less time trying to threaten impartial judges and spend more time coming up with ideas that are actually constitutional."
McConnell said the "silver lining" in the controversy is this: "These efforts to attack judicial independence remind us that independence is essential. Every time Democrats try to threaten sitting judges, we are reminded exactly -- exactly why the Framers gave them life tenure and salary protection..."
McConnell concluded: "As long as this majority holds the gavel, we will never let the minority leader's dangerous views become policy. This majority will ensure the only casualties of this recklessness are the reputations of those who engage in it."
Schumer defends himself: 'I'm from Brooklyn'
An angry Sen. Schumer later defended himself on the Senate floor, not apologizing, but insisting he was not making a threat: "I'm from Brooklyn. We speak in strong language. I shouldn't have used the words that I used, but in no way was I making a threat.
"I never, never would do such a thing. And Leader McConnell knows that."
Schumer accused McConnell and his fellow Republicans of "manufacturing outrage," and he said the real outrage is the Republican attacks on a woman's right to choose.
Schumer said he will continue to "fight for the women of America."