GOP silent as congressman jokes about giving Justice Ginsburg coronavirus

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Self-quarantined Republican Rep. Paul Gosar thinks it's hilarious to imagine infecting an 87-year-old Supreme Court justice.

A Republican congressman joked on Tuesday evening about intentionally infecting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with coronavirus. Republican leaders who vocally condemned "threats" against other Supreme Court justices by a Democrat just last week have thus far been silent.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) announced Sunday that he would self-quarantine after interacting with an individual at a conservative political conference who was later hospitalized with COVID-19, the disease associated with the novel coronavirus.

On Monday evening, he tweeted a joke, which he attributed to a right-wing radio program.

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"Fact check: there is no truth to the rumor that [Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)] and I asked for a joint meeting with Justice Ginsburg," he said. "Good one. #thatsnotnice." Cruz is also in self-quarantine for the same reason.

Ginsburg, age 87, received treatment last year for a cancerous tumor on her pancreas. COVID-19 is especially dangerous for older people and those with serious chronic medical conditions.

Gosar's joke comes just days after he and other Republicans lambasted Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for comments they framed as threats against Donald Trump's two Supreme Court appointees. Gosar's office did not immediately respond to an inquiry about his tweets.

Schumer (D-NY) told fellow abortion rights supporters at a rally last Wednesday, "I want to tell you, [Justices Brett] Kavanaugh and [Neil] Gorsuch, you have unleashed a whirlwind, and you will pay the price." He later clarified that he meant political consequences for Trump and the Senate Republicans who voted to confirm his nominees and said he "should not have used the words"

But Donald Trump responded to Schumer's comments forcefully, tweeting, "There can be few things worse in a civilized, law abiding nation, than a United States Senator openly, and for all to see and hear, threatening the Supreme Court or its Justices."

He urged that Schumer should "pay a severe price for this!" The White House did not immediately respond to an inquiry about whether Gosar's comments are acceptable.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy led the attacks on Schumer's remarks, even going on Fox News over the weekend to suggest the New York Democrat be removed from his leadership position.

"In America, we believe in the exchange of ideas. He wants to intimidate them because he doesn't agree with their ideas. That's wrong. [The] question to me is why do Democrats keep him as a leader?" the California Republican asked. His office did not immediately respond to an inquiry about Gosar's comments.

Neither did the office of House Minority Whip Steve Scalise. Last week, he called Schumer's comments "unhinged."

"This rhetoric has dangerous consequences. Where's the media outrage?" Scalise (R-LA) tweeted.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.