Newt Gingrich’s ill-advised war on the only branch of government that people believe in.
For a self-confessed epic character, Newt Gingrich has stage-managed himself into an epic piece of political stupidity. With his escalating attacks on the federal judiciary, he has confirmed that, if elected, he would place himself atop a government that simultaneously manages to be both a dictatorship and a theocracy. In recent weeks—and just as his presidential star was improbably rising—he doubled down on his initial claims that the federal courts “have become grotesquely dictatorial and far too powerful,” to offer up new promises that, as president, he would abolish federal judgeships, occasionally ignore the Supreme Court, and—in the manner of a tiny tyrant in khaki shirts and mirrored sunglasses—have federal marshals arrest errant federal judges and force them to testify before Congress about their unpopular decisions.
One is tempted to open up a can of lofty rhetorical whoopass to explain why each of these ideas offends the basic constitutional principles of separation of powers, and judicial independence, but really, why? Does anyone even have to explain why Gingrich’s plans to construct a federal judiciary out of his own rib, then terrorize it into imposing his constitutional vision on the nation is a staggeringly bad one? Not really, given that conservative commentators have ably done so already. Former Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey last week called the Gingrich court plan “ridiculous,” “irresponsible,” “outrageous,” and “dangerous” and former Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales called it “intimidation or retaliation against judges.” Conservative legal analyst Edward Whelan dismissed Gingrich’s proposal for abolishing judgeships “as constitutionally unsound and politically foolish.” Conservative columnist George Will poked fun at Gingrich’s hysterical rant about how the 9th Circuit’s decision that the word “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional was comparable to the court’s infamous Dred Scott decision. Wrote Will: “Really? It took four years of war and 625,000 dead to settle the slavery question; it took a unanimous Supreme Court a few minutes to swat aside the 9th Circuit’s silliness.”
Read the full story here: Slate Magazine
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