Gingrich blasts the Judiciary
Must have something to hide
Barley able to secure the nomination from his own bankrupt Republican Party, Newt Gingrich lashes at the third branch of government like it doesn't have a leg to stand on.
Congress has made some very faulty laws and the Courts have had to interpret them for Justice’s sake. Some of the faulty laws were made on Gingrich’s watch. Today, the party of Gingrich passed a law that includes provisions to force the President to make a decision about the transcontinental pipeline on a Congressional schedule. Guess what, that is Congressional overreach. See you in the Court that you so despise.
“Gingrich Takes Aim at Legal System
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich came out swinging Saturday against the nation's legal system, pledging if elected to defy Supreme Court rulings with which he disagrees and declaring that a 200-year-old principle of American government, judicial review to ensure that the political branches obey the Constitution, had been "grossly overstated."
Courts "are forcing us into a constitutional crisis because of their arrogant overreach," Mr. Gingrich told reporters in a Saturday conference call. He repeatedly blasted federal judges for imposing "elitist opinion" on the rest of the country.
Politicians often attack the judiciary for decisions they perceive as unpopular, a relatively painless tactic because judges, unlike electoral opponents, don't fight back. But Mr. Gingrich, a former House speaker, has gone further than any major candidate in recent memory, with scalding rhetoric rarely seen since the 1950s and '60s, when Southern politicians excoriated the Supreme Court for ordering the end to racial segregation, something many then argued exceeded the judiciary's constitutional power.
"The courts have become grotesquely dictatorial," Mr. Gingrich declared at a candidates' debate Thursday, something he would correct by calling judges before congressional inquiries, abolishing or defunding courts whose constitutional interpretations differ from his and impeaching judges not solely for criminal or ethical misconduct, as has been the practice, but also for their rulings.
Mr. Gingrich cited a handful of court decisions with which he disagrees, including some that have been reversed on appeal, to justify his plans. He also complained that many cases closely divide the Supreme Court, leaving a single vote—often that of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who he singled out for criticism—to resolve the dispute
"Do we really believe that all the intricate systems that we have created should come down to one lawyer?" he said. "The courts are too aggressive, and the courts have been trying to impose an elitist value system on a country that's inherently not elitist."
He pointed to a position paper on his campaign website, which states that "should the Supreme Court issue decisions during a Gingrich administration that unconstitutionally empower federal judges with certain national security responsibilities, such decisions will be ignored."
Unlike earlier epochs when conservative politicians railed against liberal courts, however, today's Supreme Court is widely considered to be the most conservative since the 1930s—something that has provoked complaints from Democrats, including President Barack Obama, who in 2010 scored the court for overruling decades of precedent to invalidate federal and state laws regulating corporate and union political spending.
If a President Gingrich were to follow through with his plans, he would almost certainly provoke a constitutional conflict with the head of the federal judiciary—Chief Justice John Roberts, who, as it happens, Mr. Gingrich has cited as one of his favorite justices. It already has divided him from leaders of the conservative legal movement, including former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who told Fox News that some of Mr. Gingrich's ideas are "dangerous, ridiculous, totally irresponsible, outrageous, off-the-wall and would reduce the entire judicial system to a spectacle."
Mr. Gingrich's rivals for the Republican nomination have split on the issue. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota seconded the former Georgia congressman's plans, but Rep.Ron Paul said they would open "a can of worms."
Regardless of their approach to constitutional interpretation, Supreme Court justices have jealously guarded their prerogatives as a co-equal branch of government, particularly a foundational ruling that Mr. Gingrich sought to diminish, Marbury v. Madison.
Stemming from a constitutional conflict during the presidential transition from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, the 1803 decision by Chief Justice John Marshall clarified the federal judiciary's function in the constitutional system. The ruling's famous holding, that "it is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is," is carved in marble on the wall of the Supreme Court.
Rather than follow the Marbury precedent, Mr. Gingrich said Saturday he proposes "a floating, three-way constitutional system" in which any two of the three branches of federal power—the executive, legislative and judicial—could effectively overrule the other.
Mr. Gingrich's plan to diminish the judiciary may play well with social conservatives who oppose court rulings recognizing abortion rights and limiting religious displays on government property.
That may aid him in next month's Iowa caucuses, where social conservatives are likely to dominate. It's unclear, however, whether undermining judicial independence will appeal to the broader electorate. According to a September Gallup poll, 46% of Americans—and 50% of Republicans--approved of the Supreme Court's performance. Although that was down five percentage points from the prior year's survey, it was well above Congress's 15% approval rating and slightly above the 43% approval rating Mr. Obama received in a November Gallup poll.
Republican candidate Mitt Romney invoked those numbers in rejecting Mr. Gingrich's proposals at Thursday's debate.
"The only group that has less credibility than justices, perhaps, is Congress, so let's not have them be in charge of overseeing the justice system," the former Massachusetts governor quipped.