"Face the Nation" transcript: December 18, 2011
Gingrich: No, no, no. You can't be sure what the next court will do and the question is, as a people do we have the right to take the 9th Circuit Court, which ruled the one nation under God was unconstitutional in the pledge of allegiance. Do we as a people, where over 90 percent of the people believe that's false, the Senate and the House overwhelmingly rejected it immediately. They had a vote almost immediately, overwhelmingly rejected it.
Schieffer: Alright here's another one, this is now. Next year the Supreme Court is going to take up Obama's healthcare proposal. What if they throw it out? Can President Obama then say I'm sorry boys, I'm just going to go ahead and implement it. Could he do that?
Gingrich: The key question is, what would the congress then do? Because there are three branches...
Schieffer: But could he do that?
Gingrich: He could try to do that. And the congress would then cut him off. Here's the key -- it's always two out of three. If the president and the congress say the court is wrong, in the end the court would lose. If the congress and the court say the president is wrong, in the end the president would lose. And if the president and the court agreed, the congress loses. The founding fathers designed the constitution very specifically in a Montesquieu spirit of the laws to have a balance of power not to have a dictatorship by any one of the three branches.
Schieffer: Let me just tell you what several people have said about this. When the Des Moines Register announced that it was supporting Mitt Romney, it said one of the reasons is because he does not pander to extremes with attacks on the courts. And a number of conservatives, including two of George Bush's attorneys general, Alberto Gonzales and Michael Mulcasey both said and I'm going to just quote what Mr. Mulcasey said and he told this to Fox News, he wasn't telling it to Mother Jones. He told Fox News, he said "Mr. Gingrich's proposal is dangerous, ridiculous, totally irresponsible, outrageous, off the wall, and would reduce the entire judicial system to a spectacle." Now that's a conservative judge or a conservative attorney general. How do you respond to that?
Gingrich: I think many lawyers will find this a very frightening idea. They've had this run of 50 years of pretending judges are supreme, that they can't be challenged. The lawyer class defines America. We've had rulings that outlawed school prayer, we've had ruling that outlawed the cross, we've had rulings the outlawed the 10 Commandments, we've had a steady secular drive to radicalize this country away from all of its core beliefs. I mean what got me into this was the 9th Circuit saying that one nation under God is unconstitutional. We live in a country where judge Biery can literally say I will put you in jail for saying the word benediction. There's something profoundly wrong with the judicial system that has moved to that kind of extreme behavior.
Schieffer: But I would also add that what happened in that case is that an appeals court overturned that judge.
Schieffer: And the system worked.
Gingrich: No the local school board ended up paying large legal fees. Let me give you an example of how much this elitism permeates the system. The House Franken Commission says members of the House cannot say Merry Christmas in their official correspondence. This is absurd. But it's part of the same elite anti-religious belief structure which leads the courts to define that you're supposed to take down the Mount Soledad cross in San Diego even though it's a historic cross. And I'm just suggesting to you...I got into this originally because of two things -- The steady encroachment of secularism through the courts to redefine America as a non-religious country and the encroachment of the courts on the president's commander in chief powers, which is enormously dangerous.
Schieffer: Let me just ask you this. You talk about enforcing it because one of things you say is if you don't like what a court has done, the congress should subpoena the judge and bring him before congress and hold a congressional hearing. Some people say that's unconstitutional but I'll let that go for a minute. I just want to ask you from a practical standpoint, how would you enforce that? Would you send the Capitol police down to arrest him?
Gingrich: If you had to or you'd instruct the Justice Department to send a U.S. Marshall. Let's take the case of Judge Biery. I think he should be asked to explain a position that radical. How could he say he's going to jail the superintendent over the word benediction and invocation? Because before...because then I would encourage impeachment. But before you move to impeachment, you'd like to know why he said it. Now clearly since the congress has the power...
Schieffer: What if he didn't come? What if he said, no thank you, I'm not coming?
Gingrich: Well that is what happens in impeachment cases. In an impeachment case, the House studies whether or not, the House brings them in, the House subpoenas them. And as a general rule they show up. I mean, but you're raising the core question, are judges above the rest of the constitution? Or are judges one of the three co-equal branches?
Schieffer: But isn't the other side of that is, are the rest of us above the constitution and obeying the law?
Schieffer: Don't you at some point we have to say this is a nation of laws and we all have to....
Gingrich: We do. But I'll go back to Lincoln who people generally think respected the law. Lincoln explicitly instructed his administration to not enforce Dred Scott. And he said flatly, it's the law of the case, not the law of the land. It's in his first inaugural. By the way, if you go to Newt.org, there's an entire paper outlining the history of this case. Because I knew I was launching a topic that no other presidential candidate in modern time has launched. And I knew it had to be intellectually defensible.
Schieffer: And that's why I'm spending so much time on it here. It's fair to say, I think you agree Mr. Speaker, that the judicial system is already under enormous strain. It's almost impossible now to get a federal judge or certainly a Supreme Court Justice confirmed. We go through these long drawn out things. I think there are what, 80 something judgeships that are vacant right now?
Schieffer: Out of 800. What's that, a tenth? I guess. Wouldn't this just add to this? Wouldn't it just throw the entire system into chaos. Just sort of bring all three branches to a screeching hault...
Schieffer: In a constitutional crisis?
Gingrich: This is why the 2012 election is very important. The reason we are so deadlocked is that we have an elite that still has an enormous amount of power and they would appoint very radical judges. You have the vast bulk of the American people who are opposed to that but they don't have enough power yet to stop it and one of the key questions in 2012 is simple - Do you want to move toward American exceptionalism? We assert the constitution. We assert the nature of America or do you, in fact, want to become a secular, European sort of bureaucratic socialist society? As long as these two sides are fighting, this is not because people have bad personalities or because people are incompetent. There is a fundamental conflict underway about what kind of country we're going to be.
Schieffer: Alright, we're going to take a break and talk about something else when we come back in a minute.
Schieffer: We're back with the republican frontrunner Newt Gingrich. Mr. Gingrich, the Wall Street Journal had a particularly scathing editorial about your ties to Freddie Mac yesterday. They said that one problem you had was a lack of candor and that more damaging than your opponent's criticism of your ties to Freddie Mac because you did work for them, your opponents say as a lobbyist, you say as a consultant. They said what the journal says is that Mr. Gingrich does not understand why anyone is offended. They say you would help your candidacy if you stopped defending your Freddie payday, admitted your mistake and promised to atone as president by shrinking Fannie and Freddie and ultimately putting them out of business.
Gingrich: Well I think candidly we earned that editorial by not stopping and handling this and laying it out. The facts are I didn't personally get that kind of money. I went to a consulting firm which had offices in three cities. The share I got was relatively small. We did consulting advice. The only thing I ever wrote for Freddie Mac that was ever published said as part of it they need more regulations. The only time I've talked to the congress and to the republicans in congress was in July of 2008, and it's actually in the New York Times, at the time. And I said vote against the bailout. I said do not help Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. This is not something you should do. I was supporting John Boehner in his opposition to a bailout bill for Fannie and Freddie. The actual record is much closer to what the Wall Street Journal wants. I favor breaking both of them up. They should each be four or five companies and they should be weaned off the government endorsements because it has given them both inappropriate advantages and because we now know from the history of how they evolved that they abused that kind of responsibility.
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