By Jamie Neben
There’s a dangerous man currently running for office now and his name is Newt Gingrich. Before December 18th, 2011, when he appeared on Face the Nation, I simply considered him to be a familiar but average candidate in the ever-changing republican popularity contest. However, the answers he provided during the course of the interview point to a politician who is far beyond average.
For all the talk about following the constitution, I’m amazed that Gingrich proposes to do just the opposite. While he agrees that the judiciary branch of government is on equal footing with the executive and legislative branches, he essentially sees it as the weakest link. He deems judges to be arrogant and radical if they decide a case differently than he would. So far, I have no trouble with that point of view. He’s certainly not the only one with those opinions.
But now the dangerous element enters the picture. Gingrich told host Bob Schieffer that the traditional solution—that new judges will eventually be appointed—is inadequate. His approach would be to arrest, subpoena, and possibly impeach judges (and Supreme Court justices) if they make rulings that he does not feel are correct. Simply put, it’s Newt’s way or the highway. If you’re sitting on a federal court, you better hope that you interpret the constitution the same way that Gingrich does or else there might be a U.S. Marshall knocking on your chamber door. Of course, to control the courts is to also effectively define our liberties. For those who believe our government is too big now will be shocked when they find themselves living under authoritarian rule if Newt gets elected.
Judges are appointed so that they may be free of the distraction and influence of politics. I understand that impeachment is indeed an option in times of bad behavior but it has rarely been used and for good reason. What good would our justice system be if we regularly cleared the courtroom for political purposes? You might recall that Franklin D. Roosevelt tried another tactic that involved packing the courts with additional appointees to get his New Deal legislation ruled as constitutional. Although he was a popular president, the American people drew the line when it came to screwing with the constitution. They knew what could happen if one person had too much power.
I sure hope for our own sake that we feel the same way today.