BJC Blog RSS Feeds
Home arrow Blog arrow Newt: Arrest and Question Judges for Religious Liberty Decisions
Newt: Arrest and Question Judges for Religious Liberty Decisions E-mail
Written by Don Byrd   
Sunday, 18 December 2011

Front-running presidential contender and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich caused quite a stir today with one of the more radical notions I've heard yet this year, telling CBS' Bob Schieffer that judges should be accountable by congressional subpoena which is enforceable by arrest, in apparent violation of everything I learned in 9th-Grade Civics. Even more importantly, which judges would Newt have US Marshals haul off and drag before Congress to explain their transgressions? Those who dare try to enforce the separation of church and state, of course.

Gingrich: I think many lawyers will find this a very frightening idea. They've had this run of 50 years of pretending judges are supreme, that they can't be challenged. The lawyer class defines America. We've had rulings that outlawed school prayer, we've had ruling that outlawed the cross, we've had rulings the outlawed the 10 Commandments, we've had a steady secular drive to radicalize this country away from all of its core beliefs. I mean what got me into this was the 9th Circuit saying that one nation under God is unconstitutional. We live in a country where judge Biery can literally say I will put you in jail for saying the word benediction. There's something profoundly wrong with the judicial system that has moved to that kind of extreme behavior.

Schieffer: But I would also add that what happened in that case is that an appeals court overturned that judge.

Gingrich: Right.

Schieffer: And the system worked.

Gingrich: No the local school board ended up paying large legal fees. Let me give you an example of how much this elitism permeates the system. The House Franken Commission says members of the House cannot say Merry Christmas in their official correspondence. This is absurd. But it's part of the same elite anti-religious belief structure which leads the courts to define that you're supposed to take down the Mount Soledad cross in San Diego even though it's a historic cross. And I'm just suggesting to you...I got into this originally because of two things -- The steady encroachment of secularism through the courts to redefine America as a non-religious country

Schieffer is right: Judge Biery's injunction outlawing graduation prayer in a Texas high school was reversed on appeal by the 5th Circuit (though primarily because the record was "incomplete" and school officials had in the meantime changed the program to remove the invocation and benediction), as was the 9th Circuit's "Under God" ruling, by the US Supreme Court. That's not good enough for Newt though, who emphasized that under his plan judges should have to "explain" their decisions before a congressional committee. He also suggested that if both the President and Congress disagree with a decision by courts they should simply ignore it.

Lots of pundits and analysts will no doubt pounce on Speaker Gingrich's, er, interesting views of the separation of powers. But equally telling is his insistence that the separation of church and state is such a threat to the American way of life that it justifies a scheme that would undermine the rule of law. Rulings that limit government-sponsored religious displays or religious expressions are efforts to protect the religious liberty of all Americans. Are they always correct? Of course not. But that's why the appellate process is in place. First Amendment guarantees of freedom aren't up for a majority vote, nor should they be. Newt should know better.

Groups Turning to State Law to Make Claims Against Use of "Under God"
Federal courts have consistently ruled constitutional the use of "Under God" in public school recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance. In 2010, for example, the 9th Circuit held that the phrase is not a prayer, but instead an acknowledgement of our "founders' political philos...
Louisiana Legislator Pulls State Book Bill
On second thought, Louisiana State Representative Thomas Carmody has decided to end his bid to make the Holy Bible the official state book, just ahead of a scheduled vote of the House yesterday. The Times-Picayune has more: The bill had become a distraction, he said. ... Initially, ...