Judiciary

GOP Contenders Campaign Against the Federal Judiciary; One Candidate Wants to Ax the 9th Circuit


Six out of eight candidates for the Republican presidential nomination are backing limits on the federal judiciary, ranging from an end to lifetime tenure to impeachment to curbs on jurisdiction.

The candidates are criticizing the judiciary even though a majority of judges, including those on the Supreme Court, have been appointed by Republican presidents, the Associated Press reports. The New York Times also chronicles the judicial complaints.

Which candidates are shying away from criticism? According to the stories, Mitt Romney hasn’t joined his opponents in far-reaching criticisms. Jon Huntsman has also refrained from attacking federal judges, AP says.

In one instance, Romney told a conservative forum in South Carolina he doesn’t want to create a constitutional crisis over abortion. Three candidates took the opposite tack, endorsing legislation seeking to overturn Supreme Court rulings finding a constitutional right to abortion, AP says. They are Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann and Newt Gingrich.

The stories say the candidates also tout these ideas:

• Gingrich, Bachmann and Ron Paul back limits on the kinds of cases that can be decided by federal courts. Bachmann and Paul, for example, would like to bar courts from considering cases involving same-sex marriage.

• Rick Perry has endorsed term limits for federal judges, and has floated the idea of allowing Congress to override Supreme Court decisions by a two-thirds vote.

• Rick Santorum would like to abolish the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Gingrich, on the other hand, suggests the court could be punished through budget cuts.

• Gingrich would consider impeaching judges for their rulings and would subpoena federal judges so they could explain their decisions.

According to the Times, many of the candidates’ proposals would face “daunting constitutional obstacles.”

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