In a half-hour phone call with reporters yesterday, GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich warned that as president he would abolish courts whose judges make decisions that are out of step with fundamentalist Christian views.
“Are we forced for a lifetime to keep someone on the bench who is so radically anti-American that they are a threat to the fabric of the country?” Gingrich asked reporters. “What kind of judge says you’ll go to jail if the word ‘invocation’ is used? If this isn’t a speech dictatorship, I’d like you to show me what one looks like.”
Despite an outcry over the remarks, Gingrich reiterated them this morning during an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” saying 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 Congress.
When host Bob Schieffer asked 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.
Pundits speculate that Gingrich is trying to shore up his cred with Iowa Republicans ahead of the state’s Jan. 3 caucuses. Fundamentalist Christian voters dominate the Iowa GOP.
Gingrich has been viewed negatively by right-wing Christian voters in the past for his three marriages and acknowledged adulteries. But he’s caught on with those voters in recent weeks by saying that judges who have ruled in favor of same-sex marriage or against prayer in school are “activists” who should be thrown out.
Although Gingrich’s view of the judiciary is considered unconstitutional by legal scholars, a growing number of right-wing Republicans hope to turn the United States into a theocracy where religious fundamentalists’ interpretation of the Bible would supersede the law.