Ponnuru on Gingrich and the courts

by Walter Olson on January 26, 2012

Nicely put:

Consider, finally, Gingrich’s much-discussed desire to weaken the federal courts. The view that the courts have much more power than they used to have, and that this change is mostly unfortunate, is a respectable one. The view that Congress and the president should respond on occasion by limiting the courts’ jurisdiction, as Gingrich wants, ought to be respectable, too.

But Gingrich cannot, of course, stop there. He also has to call for Congress to summon judges to explain their decisions, which would be both pointless (they already write opinions), and wrong (congressmen have no constitutional power to hector judges). And he wants to abolish liberal circuit courts and replace them with conservative ones, which is an obvious attempt to ignore the Constitution’s grant of life tenure to judges.

Anyone who proposes that judicial power should be checked arouses the suspicion that what he really wants is freedom from the constraints of the law. Gingrich’s solution to this problem is to confirm the charge instantaneously.

{ 2 comments }

1 Bored Lawyer 01.26.12 at 1:44 pm

which is an obvious attempt to ignore the Constitution’s grant of life tenure to judges

Although unconected to Gingrich, I have been wondering whether lifetime tenure is really desirable. The downside is you get alot of judges who are simply long past it who remain on the bench.

The usual justification is judicial independence. But that could be achieved just as well by having an age limitation (e.g. 7o) or a service limitation (10, 15 or 20 years) combined with a generous pension.

2 D 01.26.12 at 5:50 pm

BL, I agree with your observation, but I feel like nit-picking today and you’re the lucky winner.
Why is a generous pension necessary? Why not a typical 401K? Of course, the same goes for all of Congress, et al. Shouldn’t a free ticket to peddle favors in the halls of power be more than sufficient remuneration for public service?

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