Newt Gingrich is a former House speaker who is running for president, so perhaps it's no surprise that his least favorite branch of government appears to be the judiciary. Over the weekend, Gingrich told reporters that as president, he'd have the power to eliminate entire federal courts, replace "activist judges," and even ignore certain Supreme Court rulings. He also said Congress should subpoena federal judges whose decisions are "strikingly at variance with America," and that the president could send U.S. Marshals to force unwilling judges to testify. This assault on the independence of the judiciary was roundly criticized, even by conservatives who broadly agree with Gingrich that federal courts are overreaching. What is Gingrich thinking?
Newt is either pandering, or he's nuts: The closer Newt gets to the nomination, "the more unhinged" his attacks on the judiciary seem to become, says Andrew Cohen at The Atlantic. The GOP base hates liberal judges, so maybe Newt is "committing constitutional heresy just to win a few primary votes." But if not, we must assume that he actually buys this crackpot "Rock-Paper-Scissors version" of the Constitution, in which the president and Congress can overrule the Supreme Court. That's frightening.
"Newt Gingrich and his 'Rock, Paper, Scissors' Constitution"
He's going after the separation of church and state: If you look closely, says Kevin Drum at Mother Jones, Newt is only advocating toothless courts when it comes to religion in the public square. "It's really nativity scenes and prayer in public shool that animate him on this subject." That's the motivation behind Newt's comments. He wants America to be a state-supported Christian nation "without any pesky courts getting in the way."
"Newt Gingrich and God"
There's at least a nugget of truth in Newt's rant: People are "dumping on Gingrich, for mostly good reason," says Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit. But he's right that we could use a "constitutional reset" after "the hash the Supreme Court has made of things over the past 50 years." That's what Newt is good at: "Tossing a stink bomb... and letting the ensuing reaction demonstrate that there's something rotten about the status quo." But as with fellow former academic President Obama, some musings are best left to professors.
"Gingrich on judicial review"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- The big, gaping hole in the liberal policy arsenal
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- The forgotten victims of the war in Ukraine
- 10 things you need to know today: July 28, 2014
- A gay Mormon's complicated journey
- 7 ideas from ancient thinkers that will improve your modern life
- Blame Obama and U.S. evangelicals for the persecution of Iraqi Christians
- Are there too many good shows on television?
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
Subscribe to the Week