Newt Gingrich's latest entry in the shoot-off-your-mouth contest [re: judges]

According to a news item in the “Huffington” press last night, Gingrich has outdone himself: not only does he intend to abolish courts, he wants judges whose decisions run counter to his political notions arrested.
The last time I heard of anyone doing that was when the Nazis invaded Norway in 1940 and arrested the judges who had awarded the 1935 Nobel Peace Prize to the German pacifistic journalist, Carl von Ossietzky, who had exposed Hitler’s secret rearmament. :mad:
What does Gingrich expect to accomplish by making such a rash statement, except maybe making Barry Goldwater look like a moderate by contrast, or maybe committing political suicide?

No link?

It’s apparently all too real. Man, a Gingrich nomination would result in the best political ads ever!

And this is from the only House Speaker to ever be disciplined for ethics violations. Even if you support this line of thinking, Newt is not the man who should be making those decisions.

His actual words can be found here.

To summarize: He’s saying that Congress should hold hearings on and subpoena judges who are overly activist (perhaps as a part of a procedure leading to impeachment). He’s also saying that if a subpoenaed judge did not appear that he should be arrested and forced to comply.

I don’t think that’s a good idea, but I don’t think it’s quite what the OP was implying that he said.


Other than I do not see why he would bother arresting judges if the courts had already been abolished, I think it is, or at least pretty close.

Hauling judges before Congress under restraint, to justify decisions? I don’t see how such a proposal could be intended as anything but an intent to force them to comply with majority party’s political policy.

I thought Gingrich was an historian - why would he propose something so antithetical to something so fundamental as the separation of powers?

Because he is a historian. He explicitly referenced times when other presidents got away with disregarding Supreme Court decisions - from Lincoln to Bush.

I did not see that he was only talking about the Supreme Court; wasn’t he talking about all sitting federal judges?

And when have any of the Justices been brought before Congress under restraint?

And isn’t there a difference between suspending certain rights in times of war and arresting persons in an equal branch of the government if you don’t like their decisions?

And what war?

No, I am not seeing any parallels.

Newt, if you want to be an absolute dictator, North Korea has an opening.

Newt’s already got the dork look down pat. I think he’s ready.

Not directly related to this thread’s topic, but worth it for its caricature of Newt: The last issue of The Boston Phoenix and the article Night of the Living Newt*:
*I’d have called it Newt of the Living Dead. Catchier.

What do they with a federal judge who ignores a subpoena now?


The whole concept of attempting to subpoena a federal judge to “explain” a legal decision is antithetical to the separation of powers. Courts speak through written decisions. Period. They do not “explain” themselves to Congress. The impeachment process as applied to the federal courts exists to remove judges for improper conduct, like criminal acts or ethical violations. Not because you disagree on the merits of a case. Frankly, I think if a POTUS attempted to do what Newt says here, it may constitute grounds to impeach him. I see it as a direct and serious violation of the separation of powers, and utter disregard for the rule of law.

How many people actually watched the interview? You can watch it here.

It was Bob Schieffer that brought up the idea of arresting judges. What Gingrich was suggesting was that judges could be subpoenaed to explain their rulings. If someone ignores a congressional subpeona, then a contempt of congress charge can be sent to the justice department by the committee.

Since Congress has the power impeach federal judges, then it doesn’t seem unreasonable to ask them to appear before congress to explain their actions before impeaching them.

BTW, if you are subpoenaed by Congress; do they reimburse you for travel expenses?

Abolish courts? Sheesh… I’ve said some stupid and innacurate things around here but …

Wow. Godwined in the OP.

While the OP misrepresented what Newt said, his actual words are still, shall we say, troubling. But that’s Newt. All of his ideas are grand ideas. Even the bad ones.

I generally agree with you, but what if a federal judge made a ruling completely outrageous (or even a 5-4 SCOTUS decision) something like the 13th-15th amendment were improperly ratified (let’s say because southern states weren’t given equal representation) and anti-slavery laws, and all subsequent federal civil rights protection were struck down, including, but not limited to segregated schools, restaurants, etc.

Further, Dred Scott is now again law of the land, and blacks are not “persons” and no state can allow them to vote on new constitutional amendments.

I know this is ridiculous, but what would be done about this? Is impeachment proper? Even if they publish a written opinion that we all disagree with? Still a separation of powers issue?

Judges HAVE made rulings that were completely outrageous. Everything from Bush v. Gore to Citizens United to the Dred Scott decision you cited in the post I snipped. But making outrageous decisions is wholly different from making improper decisions or taking unconstitutional actions. The fact is, there are means already set into our laws that allow for us to rectify outrageous decisions.
For instance, if Congress doesn’t like a court ruling, it can just change the law upon which the ruling is based.

I don’t blame the OP for giving the wrong impression of what Gingrich said. The Huffington Post article gives that impression and dougie_monty was just relaying it.

For the record, Gingrich did not say he would arrest judges for issuing decisions he didn’t like. He suggested that Congress might require a judge to appear before it in order to explain why he made a decision and that if a judge refused a congressional subpeona to appear, he’d be subject to arrest.