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Press Release - American Spectator: President Gingrich Would Curtail Judicial Power

July 13, 2011

The American Spectator has an interview with Newt discussing the how the judiciary has grown out of control and why the elected branches of government must reassert themselves to restore the proper relationship of power between the people and the judges.

Some key excerpts:

Although it is very evident from the Federalist Papers and from Jefferson's letters that the founders viewed the judiciary as the "weakest of the three branches," too many of today's elected officials have accommodated activist court rulings without offering a forceful response, Gingrich observed. By asserting that the American people have a right to challenge the judiciary through their elected representatives, the Georgia Republican anticipates that he will offend prevailing opinion in the media and academia. But, at the same time, the judiciary's repeated attacks on religious freedom could help stir a larger debate about the ideals of the founding period, he said.

While addressing the Republican Leadership Conference (RLC) in New Orleans earlier this month, Gingrich discussed a recent federal court decision that prohibited public prayer at a high school graduation ceremony in Texas. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Fred Biery ordered the Medina Valley Independent School District to prevent the school's valedictorian from including prayer as part of her graduation speech.

This decision puts Judge Biery at odds with 90 percent of Americans who support school prayer, Gingrich told audience members. Biery's order was so extreme that he actually threatened students and graduates with incarceration if they simply used the word "prayer", Gingrich pointed out in his talk.

...

Gingrich's answer to Judge Biery is the Judicial Reform Act of 1802, which eliminated 18 out of 35 federal judgeships. If Republicans pick up enough seats in the House and Senate next year, it will be possible to introduce legislation modeled on what Jefferson and Madison offered up in response to judicial overreach.

"As a modest first step toward reining in the anti-religious bigotry on the bench, Judge Biery's office should be abolished by Congress," Gingrich said. "The American people would be better off without a judge whose anti-religious extremism compels him to ban a high school valedictorian for just saying the word 'prayer.'"

Gingrich would also eliminate the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in California, which has a long history of activist rulings. The court, for example, ruled in 2002 that the "under God" phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court later reversed the decision.

"I'm not nearly as radical as Jefferson or Madison," Gingrich said. "I would not eliminate half of the federal judgeships. But there's no question that this type of legislation is constitutionally viable and we have strong historical precedence. Once people see this, it will help get the right kind of arguments into circulation. Judges are within the Constitution and not above it. This concept of judicial supremacy, favored by the elites, is absurd and entirely out of step with what the founders had in mind."

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Over the past few weeks, Gingrich's presidential bid has been beset with a series of staff departures that have induced media speculation about the long-term viability of his efforts. A report in the Washington Post, for example, claims Gingrich has had difficulty raising money and quotes former advisors who doubt he can recover politically. But Gingrich insists he is in the race to stay and that his antagonists in the "big media" have underestimated how potent the right mix of ideas can be in the presidential race.

On that point, Gingrich is absolutely correct, Regent University government professor Charles Dunn said. Other political figures who have had setbacks on the campaign trail later regained their footing because they presented the voting public with a compelling platform for reform, Dunn said. While other Republican candidates have been critical of judicial activism, they have not put the issue within a larger historical context the way Gingrich has.

"Other Republicans have spoken about appointing strict constructionists to the court, but Gingrich is going further here and telling us that Congress needs to stand up because it has allowed the Constitution to be turned upside down."

In the modern age, the Supreme Court has been dictating policy to Congress and to the executive agencies, Dunn continued. But there is reason why Article One of the Constitution begins with Congress, then it lists the Executive under Article Two and the Court is last with Article Three, he noted.

"You cannot read the Federalist Papers without agreeing with Newt," Dunn said. "The federal judiciary has become too powerful and it's an issue the other candidates will need to address. Newt has opened up a very important discussion. He is a man of ideas."

Newt Gingrich, Press Release - American Spectator: President Gingrich Would Curtail Judicial Power Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/298518

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