Newt Gingrich’s latest ‘zany’ idea

There probably aren’t many sentient Americans who haven’t adamantly disagreed with federal court rulings on some important issues — whether it’s Roe v. Wade, Gore v. Bush, prayer in public places, individual ownership of guns or dozens of other decisions.

But, regardless of one’s political affiliation, everyone should be appalled at Newt Gingrich’s idea of relegating the federal judiciary to some shadowy status in which it is subject to the whims of Congress or the president.

Gingrich said if he were president, he would abolish some federal courts if he believed rulings by judges on those courts were out of step with the country, according to the Washington Post. He also suggested on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday that federal marshals could be sent to arrest judges who issue controversial rulings, and compel the judges to explain their decisions before Congress.

What balderdash by someone who claims to know history!

Not only are Gingrich’s court ideas blatantly unconstitutional — violating the Constitution’s separation of powers — they would put Americans’ liberty at risk. Nations where the courts aren’t independent but must answer to political leaders or follow party lines — think Russia, Venezuela or China — are places where tyranny takes hold.

That’s why it’s welcome to see many conservatives, including some of Gingrich’s competitors in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, blast Gingrich’s ideas.

Both Mitt Romney and Ron Paul criticized the former House speaker over the weekend. Paul correctly called the ideas “a real affront to the separation of powers.”

Michael Mukasy, attorney general under President George W. Bush, was more blunt. He said what Gingrich has proposed is “dangerous, ridiculous, totally irresponsible, outrageous, off the wall and would reduce the entire judicial system to a spectacle,” the Post reported.

And former federal Judge Michael W. McConnell, who was appointed by Bush, said Republicans should be careful about wishing for such power over judges because it could just as easily be used by Democrats who object to the decisions of conservative judges.

The independence of our federal courts was established in the Constitution by founding fathers all too familiar with courts that simply did the bidding of the king or Parliament.

Judicial independence and the Supreme Court’s authority as “ultimate arbiter of the Constitution” was established in Marbury v. Madison, the 1803 Supreme Court decision that many legal scholars view as the most important ever rendered.

Last week, Mitt Romney called Gingrich “zany” in references to other remarks Gingrich has made and ideas he has promoted. But Gingrich’s latest ideas about federal judges — while they may win him some applause on the campaign trail — are worse than just zany. They are downright dangerous.

That’s why even conservative leaders are denouncing them, and perhaps one reason Gingrich’s brief lead in the polls seems to have evaporated. Newt Gingrich will have to recant such ideas if he hopes to become president.


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