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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Chief Justice John Roberts issued a rare statement on Wednesday denouncing "dangerous" remarks made earlier in the day by Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.

Schumer held a rally outside the Supreme Court on the day it held oral arguments in a case that could prove pivotal in the fight of abortion rights in the United States. At one point, he called out the two justices who were appointed by President Donald Trump and issued a threat.

"They're taking away fundamental rights," Schumer said. "I want to tell you, [Justice Neil] Gorsuch! I want to tell you, [Justice Brett] 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!"

Watch the clip below:

In response, Roberts denounced the minority leader's attacks in an evening statement:

This morning, Senator Schumer spoke at a rally in front of the Supreme Court while a case was being argued inside. Senator Schurner referred to two Members of the Court by name and said he wanted to tell them that "You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You will not know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions." Justices know that criticism comes with the territory, but threatening statements of this sort from the highest levels of government arc not only inappropriate, they are dangerous. All Members of the Court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.

Such direct responses to a politician's comments from the chief justice are exceedingly rare. Roberts, in particular, is deeply committed to keeping the court above the political fray as much as possible. One exception to this pattern was his rebuke in 2018 of Trump's remarks about "Obama judges."

As he was then, Roberts was absolutely correct to now to call out Schumer. Justices are not meant to be held accountable for their rulings to the public in the way legislators and presidents are for their policies; they are only subject to impeachment as a check on their power. So there's no plausible excuse for Schumer's threat, and Roberts was right to call it "dangerous."

If, as many fear, the conservatives on the Supreme Court do impose their views on the country beyond what is thought to be acceptable, there could be legitimate avenues for checking the justices' power. These include passing constitutional amendments or even, potentially, changing the size of the court or passing a rule mandating a retirement age. But while these reforms might be warranted, they should not be considered making Kavanaugh and Gorsuch "pay a price.

Poll: Most Parents Oppose Rapid School Reopening

Numerous local school systems around the country are plowing ahead with plans to resume in-person instruction despite growing evidence that children are just as capable of spreading the coronavirus as adults.

Classes were set to begin on Monday in Baker County, Florida. Masks for students will be optional, not required. "It looks like it's back to normal this morning, honestly," a local television reporter observed as parents dropped their kids off in the morning. Many students wore no face coverings.

The Trump administration and the GOP have pushed for full reopening of schools for months."Schools in our country should be opened ASAP," Donald Trump tweeted in May. "Much very good information now available."

"SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!" he reiterated on July 6.

"The science and data is clear: children can be safe in schools this fall, and they must be in school this fall," demanded Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) on Aug. 1.

"I believe our schools can, and should rise to the occasion of re-opening for in-person education this fall," agreed Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) two days later.

"The CDC and Academy of Pediatrics agree: We can safely get students back in classrooms," tweeted House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) last Tuesday.

But while Scalise, Mike Pence, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have all cited the American Academy of Pediatrics in their arguments for reopening, a new study by the group and the Children's Hospital Association raises red flags about how safe that will be.

Their report found 338,982 reported coronavirus cases in children as of July 30 in the United States. Between July 16 and July 30, the nation saw a 40% increase — 97,078 new infected children.

Last week, a high school student in an Atlanta suburb posted a photo online showing few students wearing masks in a crowded school hallway. Since that time, at least six students and three adult employees in the school have reportedly contracted the coronavirus, and the school temporarily has switched to online classes.

Another Georgia school district has already seen at least 13 students and staff members test positive since reopening a week ago.

A recent study in South Korea found that children aged ten and older spread the coronavirus at the same rates adults do. A separate study in Chicago suggested young kids might also be effective spreaders.

These contradict the false claims made by Trump and his administration that kids have an "amazing" near immunity to COVID-19.

"If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely, but almost immune from this disease, so few. They've got stronger, hard to believe, and I don't know how you feel about it, but they have much stronger immune systems than we do somehow for this," Trump told Fox News on Wednesday.

"You got to open the schools. They have a stronger immune system even than you have or I have," he told Barstool Sports on July 23. "It's amazing. You look at the percentage, it's a tiny percentage of one percent. And in that one case, I mean, I looked at a couple of cases. If you have diabetes, if you have, you know, problems with something, but the kids are in great shape." Children have made up nearly nine percent of all cases, even with schools mostly closed.

And DeVos incorrectly said in a July 16 interview, "More and more studies show that kids are actually stoppers of the disease and they don't get it and transmit it themselves."

In early July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for how schools could operate more safely during the pandemic.

Trump publicly ridiculed the guidelines, dismissing them as "very tough & expensive" and "very impractical."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.