Gingrich on Judicial Review

Former Speaker and presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich has been turning heads with his comments on “judicial activism” and the “Arrogant overreach” of federal judges. From the WSJ:

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. . . .

“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.”

Here is the campaign white paper to which Gingrich referred.

Asked about these quotes on CBS’ Talk of the Nation this morning, Gingrich did not back off, and suggested that disputes among the three branches on constitutional questions should be decided “two out of three.”

Citing what he describes as “extreme behavior” on the party of the judicial system, Gingrich proposes a system wherein “it’s always two out of three.”

“If the Congress and the court say the president is wrong, in the end the president would lose. And if the president and the court agreed, the Congress loses,” said Gingrich. “The founding fathers designed the Constitution very specifically in a Montesquieu spirit of the laws to have a balance of power – not to have a dictatorship by any one of the three branches.” . . .

Gingrich conceded today that a number of legal experts would not necessarily be comfortable with his take on the separation of power within the American government. But, he says, that’s the point.

“I think many lawyers will find this a very frightening idea,” he said. “They’ve had this run of 50 years of pretending judges are supreme, that they can’t be challenged. The lawyer class defines America. We’ve had rulings that outlawed school prayer, we’ve had rulings that outlawed the cross, we’ve had rulings the outlawed the 10 Commandments, we’ve had a steady secular drive to radicalize this country away from all of its core beliefs.”

Gingrich’s proposals have drawn substantial criticism, including from the Right. On NRO’s Bench Memos, Ed Whelan and Matt Franck tag team the former Speaker’s proposal to abolish judgeships as a way of reining in wayward courts: 1 (Whelan), 2 (Franck), 3 (Whelan), 4 (Franck).

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