The Washington Post

Newt Gingrich seeks to silence ‘activist judges’

U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich speaks during a campaign stop in Davenport, Iowa, December 19, 2011. (JIM YOUNG/REUTERS)

In the play, there is a revolt brewing when the treacherous “Dick The Butcher,”says: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

Gingrich hopes to restore American values and the powers of the commander in chief to act absolutely by abolishing the “radical” judicial branch. In making that suggestion, he reduced himself to a villainous stock character out of a Shakespearean play.

His statement comes as the nation recently celebrated the 220th anniversary of the passage of the Bill of Rights. And it’s a reminder of why we need lawyers and judges: to ensure that fundamental rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion and separation of powers enshrined in the Bill of Rights and U.S. Constitution are safeguarded.

Grassroots movements like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street make the elites nervous. In reaction to these movements, there has been an effort to centralize power and homogenize thought.

In the vein of Gingrich’s comments, there are two recent pieces of legislation that have civil libertarians furious.

The recently passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), would “allow the use of the military inside the United States, against U.S. citizens and residents, and allow their indefinite military detention based merely on suspicion of being engaged in hostilities against the U.S,” according to Kevin Zeese, attorney and organizer of Occupy Washington.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) in a recent Huffington Post Op-Ed called the NDAA “unacceptable” and “inconsistent with the liberties and freedoms that are at the core of the system our Founders established.”

Then there is Stop Internet Privacy Act (SOPA), which technology leaders disapprove of because of its potential to impede tech innovation. Some activists are concerned that the legislation would undermine free speech and reduce the ability to organize on the Internet.

This may be exactly what Gingrich and his supporters want.

Joy Freeman-Coulbary, a Washingtonian, is a pacifist, lawyer and blogger. You can reach her at and follow her on Twitter @enJOYJFC.

Read more on The Root DC

Seat Pleasant’s mayor on the “Dream”

Occupy D.C. protesters go to Baltimore



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
It's in the details: Five ways to enhance your kitchen makeover
Play Videos
Drawing as an act of defiance
A fighter pilot helmet with 360 degrees of sky
Border collies: A 'mouse trap' for geese on the National Mall
Play Videos
Bao: The signature dish of San Francisco
This man's job is binge-watching for Netflix
What you need to know about Planned Parenthood
Play Videos
How to save and spend money at college
Pandas, from birth to milk to mom
Europe's migrant crisis, explained