So You Say You Want a Revolution? Sen. Jeanne Shaheen Issues a Warning to the Supreme Court


Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., joined the growing ranks of members of Congress in issuing a warning to the Supreme Court: reaffirm Roe v. Wade or else.  The “else” varies from promises to pack the Court to personal accountability for justices. For Shaheen, it is a promise of “revolution.” It is the latest demand that the justices yield to popular demand or any countervailing interpretation of the Constitution. Or else.

“So you say you want a revolution.” However, these threats are an attack on the very concept of impartial judicial review.  “When you talk about destruction” of our traditions of judicial review, as the Beatles declared in 1968, “you can count me out.”

I understand that Sen. Shaneen is speaking of a political rather than actual revolution but the implication is that there would be consequences for the Court.

Threatening the Supreme Court has become something of a required public exhibition of faith for Democrats, a demonstration that abstract notions like judicial independence will not distract from achieving political results.  Sen. Richard Blumenthal previously warned the Supreme Court that, if it continued to issue conservative rulings or “chipped away at Roe v Wade” it would trigger “a seismic movement to reform the Supreme Court. It may not be expanding the Supreme Court, it may be making changes to its jurisdiction, or requiring a certain numbers of votes to strike down certain past precedents.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also declared in front of 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.”

The message is clear and unambiguous: vote “correctly” or you will face personal or institutional repercussions.

According to these politicians, the media, and many in academia, justices should consider such consequences in reading the Constitution. These type of extrinsic considerations are anathema to ethical judging. A jurist should not be concerned how her ruling will be received as opposed to whether it is based on principled interpretative principles. That is precisely why the Framers gave these jurists life tenure.  As Alexander Hamilton stated in The Federalist No. 78, judicial independence “is the best expedient which can be devised in any government to secure a steady, upright, and impartial administration of the laws.”

It was once viewed as anathema to attack the Court or threaten retaliation if justices did not vote as demanded. Indeed, many Democrats criticized President Donald Trump for attacking judges as partisans during his Administration. Now, however, Democrats routinely denounce conservatives as activists and threaten to change the Court if they continue to rule conservatively. Notably, while pointing to conservatives voting together as proof of ideological bias, these same leaders do not denounce the liberal justices who routinely vote as a block from  the left of the Court. They are not ideologues because they are ruling “correctly.”

Roe is being used by many as an excuse to engage in raw court packing and jurisdiction stripping. Leaders like Shaheen are suggesting that, if the Court votes wrong, they have license to unleash the “Revolution.” Even academics who criticized Roe are now advocates for court packing. Harvard Professor Laurence Tribe once declared that “one of the most curious things about Roe is that, behind its own verbal smokescreen, the substantive judgment on which it rests is nowhere to be found.” Yet, Tribe is leading other activist professors in calling for the Court to be packed to ensure a liberal majority.

Despite widespread criticism of the constitutional basis for Roe, it is now considered an inviolate case of “super precedent.” Anyone arguing that the issue should be returned to the states in whole or in part are denounced as reactionaries. That position ignores the fact that even Ruth Bader Ginsburg criticized the decision: “Roe, I believe, would have been more acceptable as a judicial decision if it had not gone beyond a ruling on the extreme statute before the court. … Heavy-handed judicial intervention was difficult to justify and appears to have provoked, not resolved, conflict.”

What is fascinating about threats against the Court (and insulting billboards by groups like Demand Justice) is that they clearly undermine the effort to preserve abortion rights. If anything, justices are more likely to push back on such pressures rather than yield to them. Yet, it is politically popular to show that you will stop at nothing to achieve political ends, even destroying one of the core institutions in our constitutional system.

In the end, the response to politicians threatening revolution remains the same as it has for the roughly 250 years: bring it on. We had a revolution that ultimately secured our core rights and institutions.  Let’s have this debate. A negative ruling from the Court certainly can lead to renewed political campaign, particularly on the state level. However, the directing of such comments to the Court raised great unease for many of us. Regardless of how we feel about the merits of Roe, we remain a nation united by a common article of faith called the United States Constitution. Our politicians may have lost that defining faith, but most  Americans are unlikely to embrace the new Revolution over the Constitution:

“You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You better free your mind instead”

184 thoughts on “So You Say You Want a Revolution? Sen. Jeanne Shaheen Issues a Warning to the Supreme Court”

  1. What I CANNOT GET MY HEAD AROUND is the hypocritical contradiction to the very value of a life the liberals seem to have regarding abortion. I understand the liberal “Womens’ Movement” or “Feminism” has designated abortion as their touchstone and when women want to kill their offspring before the birth but after the 20th month following conception it is supposed to be “My Body My Choice.” But WHY are we PROHIBITED from considering the impact to OUR SOULS! Are liberals actually declaring war on the fact our individual souls exist???

      1. Replacing a Judge is not packing the court. Keep on lying and trying, though….Ignorant Progressives love that lie.

        1. Wen Bars – Ignorant conservative Trump told more lies in a week than most progressive politicians do in their lifetime.
          Dishonest conservatives love Donald’s lies.

  2. First, they stand up for slavery. Then, they stand up for diversity [dogma] (e.g. racism). NOW (pun intended), they stand up for the wicked solution, the final solution.

    That said, there is no mystery in sex and conception. A woman and man have four choices, and still six weeks for a reproductive rite.

    Baby steps, presumably to avoid, not a revolution, but another civil war.

  3. I quote from “Civilization” by Clive Bell 1928 as his summations are apropos.

    “Politicians, for their hour, loom as large as actors and jockey and then, like them, fade from the public mind, and are known to curious erudition only”

    ‘Alive ridiculous and dead forgot’.

    “If the last part of the quotation be true, so must be the first for what could be more ridiculous that one, doomed to speedy oblivion, giving himself the airs cabinet ministers are apt to assume?”…

    …“Politicians, at best, do but manipulate and distribute the good things others have produced never do they create. When they are remembered it is chiefly for the great and dramatic events with which their names are associated but of which they were not the cause, and, as we have seen great events even will not save them always. They belong, as a rule, to that third or fourth order which, though it may play a conspicuous, can never play a leading part in the history of the race. Politicians leave scars and scratches on the disk, but they do not make the tune they neither originate nor conclude nor greatly modify those more conscious impulses of the human mind which give shape to the human history.”…

    The previous quotes are to address Senator Shaheen remarks, and below addressing the overall issue of Abortion.

    “…Reason must be the sole judge: and reason will suffer us to limit other people’s self-expression only in so far as it can be shown, reasonably, that such self-expression destroys more good that it creates.”

  4. I doubt that Roberts will ever erase the impression that he is a coward who will yield to pressure. That makes him and his Court a target for bullies. The Court has become the sniveling fat boy on the school bus.

    1. This is inarguably the case – Roberts “depoliticized” the Court by responding to left wing demands and threats that they’d call the Court political if they didn’t get things their way. Now he’ll “never get rid of the Dane.”

  5. Democrats fail to see that their consistent undermining of the legal structure leads to the people assuming “permission” to riot and commit crime with impunity. At the same time they’re accusing Trump of “insurrection,” they’re sabotaging the legal basis of society. If Trump is guilty of insurrection, so are Shaheen, Schumer and Blumenthal, and so are the liberal Soros-bought prosecutors who have allowed crime to destroy major US cities.

  6. When you say “Sen. Shaneen is speaking of a political rather than actual revolution” I believe you are wrong.

    Revolution means a change in government. political power, and political structure which occurs when the there is a revolt against the standing government,

    Democrats have been pursuing a revolution with their efforts to change our Constitution for the last 4 decades. Initially via elections, and now via their explicit support of violence in cites across our country.

    They are pursuing it through violence and mini-“coups”. Democrats embraced violence with their overwhelming support of BLM, a marxist organization, and Anti-Fa. And now, they are creating political coups as illustrated by their significant extra-Constitutional alterations to our voting rules by unelected officials (ignoring state legislatures’ Constitutional primacy on the issue) and their on-going public threats against the Supreme Court, starting with Obama. They also did this in their attempts to federalize issues like business shutdowns, controlling movement of individuals, and vacks and mask mandates.

    The Democrat party controlled by their extreme wing (the Squad, Bernie, Warren, Obama, Biden, and many more) has already started their Revolution, now both political and violent on the parts of the Democrats.

  7. (Words in parentheses or by Jonathan Turley)

    “I understand that Sen. Shaneen is speaking of a political rather than actual revolution but the implications is that there would be consequences for the Court.”

    (To use words like, “Unbelievable,” or, “Appalling”, is not only way to light, but neither word can convey just how dangerous this Anti-American Party really is. These are direct threats not only to the sanctity of the US Supreme Court, but these are direct threats to our Nations Democracy.

    To the stability pertaining to the founding and the foundation of our entire, Nation. These threats are threats that people make when they are people that belong to a party of traitors, thereby an “illegal party of treasonous actions. This entire party Long ago gave up on our Nation. This entire party is not even a shadow of its former self. To be the shell of a previous party there has to be some semblance of its former-self. Well there isn’t.

    This party is a direct threat to the United States and the reality of it is the entire party legally needs to be arrested! Locked up in federal holding. And this is not the first time they have threatened the Supreme Court. And when you threaten the Supreme Court you have threatened the foundation, the very glue if you will, that holds our entire country together. Not only do they need to be arrested this entire party needs to be 100% eradicated after these threats

    ”However, these threats are an attack on the very concept of impartial judicial review.” “The message is clear and unambiguous: vote “correctly” or you will face personal or institutional repercussions.”

    1. Bingo! Dem party is the internal enemy of our Republic. Abortion, I’ve never seen such fervent passion for killing babies in our entire human history. The genocide of Mao, Stalin, Hitler were heinously, tragically minor compared to this. Has no one heard of “The Pill,” widely available for decades for free and 99.8% effective in preventing pregnancy when taken as directed.

      1. Has no one heard of “The Pill,” widely available for decades for free and 99.8% effective in preventing pregnancy when taken as directed.

        Nope. These devices and agents are not free, and have many long term health risks, e.g. breast and cervical cancers

        Better to keep your legs crossed and wait for the right one. Nothing in life is free particularly when you start manipulating endogenous hormone production with exogenous agents. Never a good idea

  8. It’s mind-boggling to me that the “right” to kill babies sparks this kind of outrage by lefties, democrats, etc. No other issue brings them to the brink of changing the number (and, therefore, political backing) of justices on the Supreme Court. (BTW: Today it’s the Supreme Court. Tomorrow, perhaps, it could be any District Court or Court of Appeals that does not do their bidding.)

  9. What would happen to the average American who made remarks to threaten or intimidate a judge’s decision on an ongoing case?

  10. Fundamental, how is this any different from the ‘ State’s Rights ‘ arguments that ultimately launched the Civil War ??

    1. OK. I agree with your thought—in spirit—but when it comes to balance and our ability to realign society to “new” norms or “old” ideologies LYNCHING is NEVER A PRODUCTIVE ACTION. Lynching is still done by cartels and mob gangs of thugs—THAT IS ALL THEY EVER WERE: the oppressors taking advantage of the oppressed and PUBLICIZING IT. Although, that is similar to what Big Media, Big Tech and the Rabid Liberal Thrall has done with most of the “News” since Trump came into power. God bless Trump and his family. Schumer, Pelosi, the liar from LA and the bariatric patient from the East should all be made accountable. Right now, they are NOT.

  11. Prof Turley writes that threats will make the Justices less likely to “obey.” Maybe some of them, but it has been repeatedly shown that CJ Roberts can be intimidated.

    1. Listening to Roberts’ questions suggests he is more likely to focus on how the “Roberts’ Court” is viewed – than on the constitutional/legal issues involved in this matter.

  12. It really comes down to this; in order to save the union we may need to eliminate a good many insurrectionists. We needed to do it once and we may need to do it again. Talking rationally to the left will be even less effective than talking abolition to slave holders. They have too much invested in the ideology to willingly give it up.

  13. Senate needs to take of its’ own business. People like Shaheen and Shumer should be disciplined for these statements, which undermine the role of SCOTUS and undermine faith in the independent judiciary. Yes they have the right of free speech; but this is akin to yelling fire in a crowded theater.

    1. Yes, Senators Schumer and Shaheen should be disciplined for their ill-considered and incendiary remarks, the First Amendment not withstanding. I am struck by the smugness of the political class.

  14. What is it with these knuckleheads? No respect for the “separate but equal” branches; no respect for the independence of the judiciary? Once upon a time trying to influence or pressure a judge or a court was considered to be a seriously bad thing.

    Today, for some groups – it seems to be the norm. “If I might not get my way, I’ll just threaten violence.”

    Not at all acceptable.

  15. This may come down to Roberts. He seemed to show willing to yield to influence on Obamacare so naturally pressure will be laid on with other issues because the Court has shown willingly weak.

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