Fmr. Attorney General Michael Mukasey Calls Parts of Gingrich's Judicial Paper 'Outrageous' and 'Ridiculous'
In October, Newt Gingrich released a paper outlining how he would change the judicial system if he were elected president. The 28-page report titled, "Bring the Courts Back Under the Constitution," argues for a more subordinate judiciary. So what exactly does this entail and how would it change our judicial system?
"We do not have to tolerate radical anti-American judges rewriting the American constitution," Gingrich told the crowd at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition. The plans calls for Congress to start subpoenaing judges who issue controversial rulings, compelling them to explain their constitutional reasoning.
Megyn Kelly spoke with both Alberto Gonzales and Michael Mukasey, both former U.S. Attorney Generals under President George W. Bush. While they both say the paper makes some good points, they equally share serious reservations about some of the other ideas proposed.
"To subpoeana judges so as to beat them up about their decisions ... if they're going to say that has to do with legislation that they're going to propose, that's completely dishonest," says Mukasey.
"I think that we have a great government, a great country because it's built upon a foundation of the rule of law. One of the things that makes it great and that the rule of law is protected is by having a strong and independent judiciary," Gonzales says. "The notion of bringing judges before Congress like a school child being brought before the principal, to me, is a little troubling. I believe a strong and independent judiciary doesn't mean it's above scrutiny, that it's above criticism for the work that it does. But I cannot support and would not support efforts that appear to be intimidation or retaliation against judges."
Gingrich takes it a step further by proposing to abolish certain judgeships or even entire courts if circumstances warrant. He also wants to kick judges off the bench - specifically calling out Judge Fred Biery in Texas.
But should a judge's job be on the line based on his or her decisions? "I would tread very, very carefully down the road in the notion that, 'okay, this judge has rendered a decision that we think is unpopular and we're unhappy with it so we're going to try to impeach this judge,'" says Gonzales. "I think that's not healthy. Again, I think the way you deal with decisions rendered by judges you're unhappy with is you win presidential elections. You elect a president who is going to appoint people to the judiciary who understand the appropriate role of judges."
"That's why they have judges who serve guaranteed-for-life terms, who have salaries that can't be diminished during a lifetime so that they are independent of political pressure," Mukasey points out.
On Gingrich's plan that he will completely do away with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals: "Ridiculous," says Mukasey. "To say that you're going to undo an entire court simply because you don't like some of their decisions when there are thousands of cases before that court is totally irresponsible."
"It's outrageous because it essentially does away with the notion that when courts decide cases, the proper way to have them reviewed is to go to a higher court," Mukasey adds. "You have no guarantee that you have a permanent majority. It would end with having a Democratic majority that then decides to abolish the 4th circuit and the 11th circuit. It would reduce the entire judicial system to a spectacle."
So what is Mukasey's advice for Gingrich regarding the paper?
"There's a lot in here that's good," he says. "Take a red pen to the parts that are bad, and run with it."