Former House speaker Newt Gingrich showed no sign Sunday of letting up on his assault on “activist” federal judges. During an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Gingrich suggested the president could send federal law enforcement authorities to arrest judges who make controversial rulings in order to compel them to justify their decisions before congressional hearings.
When asked by host Bob Schieffer how he would force federal judges to comply with congressional subpoenas, Gingrich said he would send the U.S. Capitol Police or U.S. Marshals to arrest the judges and force them to testify.
Gingrich, who in recent weeks has surged to the front of the pack in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, has come under fire from the left and the right for his attacks on the federal judiciary. Michael Mukasey, former attorney general during the George W. Bush administration, said some of Gingrich’s proposals were “dangerous, ridiculous, totally irresponsible, outrageous, off-the-wall and would reduce the entire judicial system to a spectacle.”
Read the transcript of Gingrich’s exchange with Schieffer:
SCHIEFFER: Let me just ask you this and we’ll talk about enforcing it, because one of the things you say is that if you don’t like what a court has done, the congress should subpoena the judge and bring him before congress and hold a congressional hearing. Some people say that’s unconstitutional. But I’ll let that go for a minute.
I just want to ask you from a practical standpoint, how would you enforce that? Would you send the capital police down to arrest him?
GINGRICH: If you had to.
SCHIEFFER: You would?
GINGRICH: Or you instruct the Justice Department to send the U.S. Marshal. Let’s take the case of Judge Biery. I think he should be asked to explain a position that radical. How could he say he’s going to jail the superintendent over the word “benediction” and “invocation”? Because before you could — because I would then encourage impeachment, but before you move to impeach him you’d like to know why he said it.
Now clearly since the congress has....
SCHIEFFER: What if he didn’t come? What if he said no thank you I’m not coming?
GINGRICH: Well, that is what happens in impeachment cases. In an impeachment case, the House studies whether or not — the House brings them in, the House subpoenas them. As a general rule they show up.
I mean, you’re raising the core question — are judges above the rest of the constitution or are judges one of the three co-equal branches?