(WASHINGTON) — Presidential candidate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich suggested on Sunday that he would have the Capitol Police or U.S. Marshalls arrest activist judges, citing an incident in which a sitting federal judge ordered students not to use the word “benediction” in their high school graduation.
Gingrich, who currently leads the polls in the field vying for the Republican nomination, made the suggestion in response to a hypothetical scenario posed on CBS’ Face the Nation.
“If you had to, or you’d instruct the Justice Department to send a U.S. Marshall,” he said. “Let’s take the case of Judge Biery. I think he should be asked to explain a position that radical.”
U.S. District Judge Fred Biery received harsh scrutiny from many in June for a ruling barring religious speech during the high school graduation ceremony at Medina Valley Independent School District in Texas. The ruling was quickly overturned by a federal appeals court, but Gingrich used the incident to launch a greater assault on what he said is a judiciary out of touch with mainstream values.
“So I have to ask the question, is there an alternative? What’s the recourse?” Gingrich said.
He also cited “The Federalist Papers” to make his case for weakening the judicial branch.
“The constitution promises a balance of the judicial branch, executive branch and legislative branch,” he said. “‘The Federalist Papers’ say specifically the weakest of the three branches is the judiciary. [Thomas] Jefferson abolished 18 out of 35 federal judges.”
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio
Ralph Ellis and Sara Sidner, CNN
Lorenzo Ferrigno and David Shortell, CNN