Last week, former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) delivered a lengthy attack on America’s constitutional system of government where he ultimately concluded that, if elected president, he is free to openly defy the Supreme Court and wage a campaign of intimidation against judges who disagree with him. ThinkProgress responded with a four-part series criticizing the speech.
Today, the Gingrich campaign published a lengthy and rambling response to our critique entitled “Newt 2012 responds to Ian Millhiser on Judicial Supremacy.” Although the bulk of this response is devoted to blockquotes from scholars who have critiqued the Supreme Court’s 208-year-old conclusion that the judiciary has the final say on matters of constitutional interpretation, it does include what appears to be a clarification:
Gingrich is not saying that a President and Congress can simply ignore court rulings they don’t like. Instead, Gingrich is making the point that in those circumstances when federal judges issue decisions that the executive and/or legislative branches believe to be seriously in constitutional error, then the political branches may decide on such exceedingly rare occasion to take corrective action supported by the Constitution, including limiting the application of a decision, ignoring the decision of the Court, limiting the future jurisdiction of certain federal courts, impeaching judge(s) for unconstitutional rulings, and abolishing judgeships.
So Gingrich isn’t saying that the president may simply ignore court rulings they don’t like. He’s saying that presidents may simply ignore court rulings they really, really disagree with. That’s an entirely different standard! The president has to hate a court decision a whole lot before they are allowed to thumb their nose at it.
This is obviously not a view that’s compatible with the rule of law. It deserves nothing more than scorn and no response other than a firm reminder that Gingrich’s brand of authoritarianism has no place under the American system of government.