Newt Attacks the Courts
Newt Gingrich, former history professor and former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, understands the American three-part government of checks and balances.
This week he pretends not to.
Courts are not supposed to be popular. Judges are charged with making difficult decisions, including sentencing criminals, protecting civil rights and civil liberties, limiting the reach of the elected branches of the government and guarding the integrity of the jury trial system.
American courts have protected the rights of Nazis to march through Jewish communities, decisions not pleasing to many segments of society. Courts have ended racial segregation in schools, the workplace and the polling booth. The Supreme Court sealed the electoral victory for George W. Bush. (Thanks to Ralph Nader, who is thankfully turning his attention away from running for President after his last disaster.)
Courts are on the cutting edge. Law enforcement officers practically have to get a PhD in Constitutional law before hitting the streets and making arrests. My opinion is that sometimes the courts go too far in the name of protecting civil liberties, but that’s better than leaning too far in the other direction.
Courts, especially federal courts, are unpopular with evangelicals and conservatives because of Roe vs. Wade and related decisions.
When the election process proves too responsive to sudden changes in public opinion, laws can be passed which are oppressive to minorities. It is the function of the courts to protect minorities from vocal apparent majorities. (Because voter turnout is always affected by the emotions of the moment, what appears to be a majority one year may not be a majority at the next election.)
Courts exist to dampen the swings of the political pendulum. The Founders of the Constitution clearly intended that the courts would perform this function.
Newt, needing more traction with the Tea Party and allies, now is promising to haul judges before Congress to explain their decisions. Oops, there goes a climate for fair, unbiased, principled, reflective judgment. Let’s make a kangaroo court before politicized House committees at which to embarrass and attack judges. Or, let’s not.
Newt knows this will not happen, it cannot happen, and the Constitutional guarantees of separation of powers will make sure that this isn’t going to be. He is simply posturing. This is another throwaway idea to try to seize the passions of the moment before the Iowa caucus.
But think about this; promoting a dangerous, destabilizing and unconstitutional change in government structure, a massive change at that, may indicate a dangerous and destabilizing thought process in a man seeking the highest electoral office in the country.