Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich believes that Congress has the power to call federal judges to account and that the Constitutional separation of powers does not guarantee judicial independence.
During an appearance Sunday on CBS's Face the Nation, Gingrich was asked by host Bob Schieffer about his recent statement that if he was president he would order the administrative branch to ignore recent Supreme Court rulings on national security. Gingrich pooh-poohed any suggestion that such an order would be unconstitutional and doubled down on his position.
"There's a judge in San Antonio," he told Schieffer, "who issued a ruling so anti-religious, so bigoted, and so dictatorial on June 1, he should be called in front of a committee, and they should ask him, 'What's your -- by what right do you dictate to the American people?'"
This was apparently a reference to a ruling by U.S. District Judge Fred Biery that a Texas high school could not include a formal prayer in its graduation ceremony, since that would amount to "sponsoring a religion." There was an immediate outcry by conservatives, with the Texas attorney general calling the ruling "a trampling of the First Amendment" and "part of an ongoing attempt to purge God from the public setting."
"You have judges who are dictatorial and arrogant, who pretend that they are the dominant branch, and who issue orders that are clearly against the Constitution," Gingrich insisted. "It is unconstitutional, and somebody should stand up to them and say no."
This video is from CBS's Face the Nation, October 9, 2011.