Legal Daily News Feature
Hey Newt – Stop Slamming the Judges By Rebecca E. Neely Someone forgot to tell Newt Gingrich that he and the federal judiciary are on the same side - though it’s not immediately clear why he doesn’t already know that.
nominations commence, his stance may carry weight in Iowa, where conservative voters reign supreme – and whose
12/21/11 According to the December 20th nytimes.com article, “Among Legal Ranks, Shrugs for Gingrich’s Tough Talk”, Michael B. Mukasey, who served as attorney general under President George W. Bush, said he “grew slack-jawed in amazement as he listened to Mr. Gingrich’s argument that the elected branches should be free to ignore judicial decisions.” He was quoted as saying: “It would lead us to become a banana republic, in which administrations would become regimes, and each regime would feel it perfectly appropriate to disregard decisions of courts staffed by previous regimes. That’s not what we are.” Also per the article, in both interviews and a white paper at his website, Gingrich calls for the “abolition of courts that issued decisions he found questionable and for subpoenaing judges to explain unpopular rulings.” On “Face the Nation” aired on CBS in recent days, Gingrich said: “I think part of the advantage I have is I’m not a lawyer. And so as a historian I look at the context of the judiciary and the Constitution in terms of American history.” Perhaps Harvard law professor Laurence H. Tribe summed it up best of that remark: “The advantage of not being a lawyer is the ability to look outside the box. The disadvantage is to be so woefully ignorant of what’s inside the box.” Gingrich’s proposes replacing the judicial independence widely accepted as a distinguishing characteristic of the federal system, with facets of the political accountability more commonly associated with state judicial elections. Another hot button for Gingrich is the fact that the judicial branch gets the last word on interpreting the Constitution.
approval Gingrich needs to secure his campaign against Mitt Romney. “Judicial supremacy is factually wrong, it is morally wrong, and it is an affront to the American system of self-government,” Gingrich was quoted as having said at the Values Voter Summit on October 8th. Ouch. It’s my opinion that perhaps Gingrich shouldn’t criticize the judiciary until he’s walked a mile in its moccasins. Clearly, the law, its practice, and its interpretation is imperfect, but isn’t the world replete with other problems that need addressing, on which Gingrich could spend his energies, rather than tear down one of the branches of the government? Perhaps the question to ask is not, ‘Is the judiciary, as it stands now, problematic?’, but, ‘Is this really what, I, as a voter, and an American citizen, am most concerned about in this country today?’ Furthermore, nobody said a judge’s job was easy. No matter their decision, someone will be unhappy. However, clearly their diligence and attention to the cases before them commands respect, for innumerable reasons. Perhaps, in this day and age when so much division exists in so many facets of our society, Gingrich should be seeking common ground with his own government, rather than further opposing it, just to gain political ground. And, perhaps, before he expresses his opinions and views so vehemently, a crash course in the law would be well advised for Gingrich, the self professed non-lawyer. One never knows when it might come in handy. How’s that for thinking outside the box?
But is Gingrich merely creating political hype, to further his own end? With only weeks remaining before the presidential