Thinking Citizen Blog — Getting To Know Both Sides XIV: Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Majority Leader

John Muresianu
3 min readJul 4, 2021

Thinking Citizen Blog — Sunday is Political Process, Campaign Strategy, and Candidate Selection Day

Today’s Topic: Getting To Know Both Sides XIV: Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Majority Leader

The most amazing fact I learned researching this post is that when Chuck Schumer became Senate Majority Leader in January 2021, he was the first Jewish leader of either chamber of Congress. The most personal fact about Chuck Schumer I have to share is that while an undergraduate at Adams House, Chuck was a resident law tutor and his sister Fran was a classmate. To me, the most anomalous fact about his record is the juxtaposition of his unanimous election to the position as Majority Leader, his opposition to Obama’s Iran deal in 2015, and his full-throated approval of Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem in 2018. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate. This is the fourteenth in a series on Republican and Democratic leaders at the national, state, and local levels. The goal is to get beyond the soundbites and the insults and to come to appreciate the unique stories of each individual.

PERSONAL BACKGROUND — parents, education, early career

1. Born in Brooklyn, both parents Jewish — “his father ran an exterminating business his mother was a homemaker.” His ancestors were from what is now Ukraine.

2. Valedictorian of high school class, 1600 on SATs, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard College (1971), JD with Honors, Harvard Law School (1974), “passed NY state bar in 1975 but never practiced law.”

3. “In 1974, Schumer for and was elected to the New York State Assembly, filling a seat held by Schumer’s mentor, Congressman Stephen Solarz. Schumer served three terms from 1975 to 1981…He has never lost an election.”

FROM CONGRESSMAN (1980–1999) TO SENATOR (1999 — Present)

1. In Congress Schumer most famously introduced the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” of 1993 which mandated the Supreme Court’s return to the “strict scrutiny test” in religious freedom cases that it had recently rejected in Employment Division versus Smith (1990). The bill passed with only 3 dissenters. The companion bill in the House passed unanimously. But the Supreme Court ruled the bill unconstitutional in Bourne v Flores (1997). (See last three links below for details.)

2. In the Senate, his most startling foreign policy position was his opposition to Obama’s Iran deal in 2015. “I believe Iran will not change, and under this agreement it will be able to achieve its dual goals of eliminating sanctions while ultimately retaining its nuclear and non-nuclear power. Better to keep U.S. sanctions in place, strengthen them, enforce secondary sanctions on other nations, and pursue the hard-trodden path of diplomacy once more, difficult as it may be.” (See the third link below for details.)

3. Schumer is seen as a “lead consensus-builder on the difficult issues of health care, immigration, and financial regulation.”

SENATE ELECTORAL HISTORY

1. 1998: 54% for Schumer versus 44% for three term Republican incumbent Al D’Amato.

2. 2004: 70.6% (Schumer) versus 24% for Republican Howard Mills.

3. 2010: 66% (Schumer) versus 27% for Republican Jay Townsend.

NB: 2016: 71% (Schumer) versus 22% for Republican Wendy Long.

https://senschumer.medium.com/my-position-on-the-iran-deal-e976b2f13478

Home | U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York

Chuck Schumer Opposes Iran Nuclear Deal, Shaking Democratic Firewall (Published 2015)

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/aug/07/chuck-schumer-iran-nuclear-deal-disapproval-senate-democrats

Religious Freedom Restoration Act

City of Boerne v. Flores

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Employment_Division_v._Smith

For the last three years of posts, organized thematically:

PDF with headlines — Google Drive

YOUR TURN

Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to political process or campaign strategy or 2020 candidate selection or anything else for that matter.

This is your chance to make some one else’s day or change their thinking. Or to consolidate in your own memory something worth remembering that might otherwise be lost. Or to clarify or deepen your own understanding of something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.

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John Muresianu

Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.