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Newt Gingrich

January 31 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 31, 2012

  • Latest of periodic Towers Watson (formerly Towers Perrin/Tillinghast) surveys: tort costs fell in 2010 excluding oil spill liability [Towers Watson]
  • “Will Newt Neuter the Courts?” [James Huffman, Defining Ideas] Obama’s high court appointees are fortunately friendlier toward civil liberties than he is [Steve Chapman]
  • Unanimous Cal Supremes: companies not legally responsible for other companies’ asbestos products used as replacement for theirs [Cal Biz Lit, Jackson, Beck, Mass Tort Prof]
  • Claim: jurors considered policy implications of verdict and you can’t have that [On Point; defense verdict in Baltimore, Maryland school-bullying case]
  • Airfare display mandate: “‘Protecting’ Consumers from the Truth About the Cost of Government” [Thom Lambert, TotM]
  • Critical assessment of AP-backed new copyright aggregator “NewsRight” [Mike Masnick] Promises not to be “Righthaven 2.0″ [Cit Media Law]
  • Restatement (Third) of Torts drafters vs. Enlightenment scientific views of causation [David Oliver in June]

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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.

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Some of Newt Gingrich’s curious ideas about the role of the judiciary are nowhere to be found in the constitution, observes my Cato colleague Roger Pilon [Philadelphia Inquirer] Related, Damon Root: “The Left-Wing Origins of Newt Gingrich’s Attack on the Courts” [Reason]

George Will blasts candidate Newt Gingrich’s fevered plans for a constitutional showdown between legislature and judiciary [WaPo]. Roger Pilon has more at Cato here and here. Andrew McCarthy and Ted Frank urge us to consider that Gingrich’s overall challenge to judicial activism may, like the curate’s egg, be good in parts.

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