One of the backbones of GOP frontrunner Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign is an authoritarian plan to openly defy the Supreme Court, to wage a campaign of intimidation against judges who disagree with him, or even to eliminate courts entirely as punishment for handing down decisions he disagrees with.
In interviews with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly yesterday, both of George W. Bush’s last two attorneys general disagreed strongly with Gingrich’s proposal. Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, himself a former federal judge, called the plan “ridiculous,” “irresponsible,” “outrageous,” and “dangerous”:
KELLY: He wants to see the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals entirely abolished, your thoughts on that?
MUKASEY: Ridiculous. . . . to say that you’re going to undo and entire court simply because you don’t like some of their decisions, when there are thousands of cases before that court, is totally irresponsible. It’s outrageous because it essentially does away with the notion that when courts decide cases the proper way to have them reviewed is to go to a higher court. It’s dangerous because, even from the standpoint of the people who put it forward, you have no guarantee that you’ll have a permanent majority. . . . It would end with having a Democratic majority that then decides to abolish the Fourth Circuit and the Eleventh Circuit. And you go on and on and on. And I guess they could then reconstitute another court. It would reduce the entire judicial system to a spectacle.
Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had a similar reaction:
GONZALES: The notion or the specter of bringing judges before the Congress, like a schoolchild being brought before the principal is, to me, a little bit troubling . . . . I cannot support and I would not support efforts that appear to be intimidation or retaliation against judges.
Bear in mind that this is the same Alberto Gonzales that helped justify Bush’s torture policies and who presided over a dangerous and embarrassing politicization of the Justice Department. When even that guy thinks you have insufficient respect for the rule of law, it’s a pretty good sign that you’ve gone off the deep end.