HolyCoast: Gingrich: The Supreme Court Is Not Supreme to the Executive Branch

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Gingrich: The Supreme Court Is Not Supreme to the Executive Branch

I've been saying this for some time:
Newt Gingrich says as president he would ignore Supreme Court decisions that conflicted with his powers as commander in chief, and he would press for impeaching judges or even abolishing certain courts if he disagreed with their rulings.

"I'm fed up with elitist judges" who seek to impose their "radically un-American" views, Gingrich said Saturday in a conference call with reporters.

In recent weeks, the Republican presidential contender has been telling conservative audiences he is determined to expose the myth of "judicial supremacy" and restrain judges to a more limited role in American government. "The courts have become grotesquely dictatorial and far too powerful," he said in Thursday's Iowa debate.

As a historian, Gingrich said he knows President Thomas Jefferson abolished some judgeships, and President Abraham Lincoln made clear he did not accept the Dred Scott decision denying that former slaves could be citizens.

Relying on those precedents, Gingrich said that if he were in the White House, he would not feel compelled to always follow the Supreme Court's decisions on constitutional questions.
I'm not endorsing Gingrich, but I think he's right that the president has a responsibility under the Constitution to maintain the status of the Executive Branch as an equal to the Legislative and Judiciary branches. The title "Supreme" defines that court as supreme to every other court in the land, but does not mean it has authority over the other two branchs. I think a president would be fully within his rights to treat some court rulings as advisory and not mandatory.

Regarding an unpopular decision President Andrew Jackson is reported to have said "John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!". Since the enforcement mechanism for the courts belongs to the Executive Branch and reports to the president, I don't really see why a president couldn't order law enforcement to ignore a court order if he wished.

The Founders envisioned a government of three equal branches, with no branch holding absolute power over the others.  Liberal courts and legislators, combined with weak presidents, have allowed way too much power to end up with largely unelected judges.  It needs to change.

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