LETTER TO THE EDITOR:
Newt Gingrich apparently thinks the Founding Fathers made a terrible
mistake when they established an independent court system. Under his
proposals, judges would please the President, Congress,
and the public–or suffer the consequences. Presidents could ignore
court decisions they dislike.
Congress could haul judges before it to explain their decisions and
jail non-compliant judges, and
unpopular judges could be fired and their courts abolished.
Even some very conservative judicial critics have expressed outrage at
One of George W. Bush’s Attorneys General (Michael Mukasey) called them
dangerous;” Another (Alberto Gonzalez) condemned “bringing judges
before Congress, like
a schoolchild being brought before the principal.” Columnist George
Will wrote that Gingrich
would replace legal reasoning with “raw political power.”
The Gingrich plan is not totally untested. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s
argued that German judges tended to rely too much on legal reasoning,
too little on public opinion
and Hitler’s wishes. For this offense, judges should be fired and
their courts abolished. Like Gingrich, Goebbels
said these “reforms” would protect “the people” against oppressive
courts. They became law, the last remnants of freedom vanished, and we
invaluable lesson. Or did we?
(Louis P. Lochner, ed., Goebbels Diaries,
Doubleday: pgs. 127, 138,173-4, 192, 447).