Gingrich Leaps On The Court Stripping Bandwagon, Claiming ‘There Is No Supreme Court In The American Constitution’

ThinkProgress filed this report from Pella, Iowa.

At an Iowa campaign stop, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) offered a truly bizarre explanation for an even more bizarre proposal — Congress should simply forbid the Supreme Court to hear cases he doesn’t want them to hear because there is no Supreme Court in the Constitution:

GINGRICH: In the American system, if you read the Constitution correctly — this is why I wrote “A Nation Like No Other” — if you read the Federalist Papers correctly, the fact is the Congress can pass a law and can limit the Court’s jurisdiction. It’s written directly in the Constitution. The Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton promises, I think it’s Number 78, that the judiciary branch is the weakest of the three branches. There is no Supreme Court in the American Constitution. There’s the court which is the Supreme of the judicial branch, but it’s not supreme over the legislative and executive branch. We now have this entire national elite that wants us to believe that any five lawyers are a Constitutional convention. That is profoundly un-American and profoundly wrong.

Watch it:

First of all, Gingrich should take a moment to actually read the Constitution before he pretends to know what is in it. Article III of the Constitution begins “The judicial power of the United States[] shall be vested in one Supreme Court,” so his claim that there is no Supreme Court in the Constitution is just plain wrong.

Second, Gingrich’s proposal to simply strip the Court of jurisdiction to hear cases he doesn’t like is nothing less that a direct attack on the Constitution itself. Although there is some very old precedent suggesting that the original Constitution allows Congress to reduce the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction, the Constitution has been amended twenty-seven times since the Constitution was ratified. If Congress could strip the Court’s ability to hear free speech cases, or to prevent race discrimination, or to combat slavery, or to ensure that gay Americans are afforded the same equal protection of the law as everyone else, then it would have the power to erase entire amendments from the Constitution. The Constitution unambiguously does not give Congress this power.

Moreover, Gingrich’s court stripping proposal is as unoriginal as it is unconstitutional. His fellow presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) endorsed the exact same plan two months ago, and Bachmann herself was merely aping a court stripping agenda pushed by the late Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) in the 1980s. Bachmann’s terrible idea is no more constitutional now that Gingrich has signed onto it than it was when she first embraced it.