Scott Brown Hits Newt Gingrich Over His War On Judges

Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is continuing to distance himself from the more conservative elements of his party, this time by criticizing Newt Gingrich’s comments about the judiciary in a Boston Globe Op-Ed:

As an example, Gingrich points to a 2002 Ninth Circuit opinion declaring that the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance were unconstitutional. But what is the proper remedy in such cases? For one thing, the courts themselves are often self-correcting. Gingrich fails to mention that the decision was overturned by the Supreme Court – unanimously.

The Constitution also provides that judges can be impeached by Congress for misconduct. That’s not easy to do, but in December 2010 we impeached a federal district judge in Louisiana after he was convicted on multiple counts of corruption.

This case was just the eighth time in history a federal judge has been removed by Congress, and the framers of the Constitution made it difficult for good reason. If it were easy, judges would be subject to the whims of Congress and the president.

Yet under Gingrich’s scheme, that is precisely what would happen. Judges would be deciding cases while constantly looking over their shoulder at the possibility of retaliation from politicians. Our system of checks and balances, the foundation of our constitutional order, would be undermined. Public confidence in the impartiality of the courts would be shattered. If a president and majorities in Congress could simply overturn the constitutional interpretations of the Court, and if judges could be arrested for displeasing politicians in the other two branches, we would be placing our basic rights in jeopardy. The rule of law would be destroyed.

I made fairly similar points about Gingrich here and here and, of course, Brown is entirely correct. Brown will probably be called a RINO for this, but it’s good to see at least one Republican standing up and calling Gingrich’s rhetoric what it is, a ridiculous and dangerous idea.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Congress, Law and the Courts, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Gustopher says:

    It’s cute that he says things like this during his re-election campaign, but he doesn’t do a whole lot to separate himself from the right wing of his party when he’s on the Senate floor.

  2. @Gustopher:

    Actually, Brown has broken with the GOP on several key votes since entering office.

  3. John Peabody says:

    True- Brown has been a thorn for many R’s. But, by gosh, he remains an R. I don’t know if he’ll survive re-election, though…

  4. He likely won’t. His opponent is running a stronger campaign than Coakley did, and this IS Massachusetts, during a Presidential election.

    Still, I actually kinda like Scott Brown. He’s been a fairly consistent moderate since entering into office, with a few exceptions that one would expect.

  5. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I also think he’s going to lose to Warren. He probably would stand a better chance at staying in if he was running in, say, CT or DE.

  6. @Christopher Bowen:

    Of course, the fact he’s a consistent moderate is a large part of why he’s at risk in the election. As much as people complain about the polarization in congress, they vote in a way that has made knee-jerk partisanship the Nash Equilibrium.

  7. mattb says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Or perhaps, to your point, it should be that:

    Despite the fact he’s a consistent moderate, the fact he’s a *republican* in Massachusetts is a large part of why he’s at risk in the election.

  8. @mattb:

    That’s my point: being moderate doesn’t actually benefit you. People in your own party will be less enthusiastic for you and people in the other party won’t vote for you based solely on your party affiliation no matter how close you get to them policywise, so you end up with less votes then you’d get as a bombthrower.

  9. MarkedMan says:

    Scott Brown’s “breaks” with the party orthodoxy seem to have been votes he was allowed by the leadership to make because they had enough to filibuster or win without him. In all votes where his lone dissent would have made a difference he lined up obediently. That’s one of my big problems with voting for a repub – any repub. In the end they all do as they are told.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Brown is entirely correct.

    Ergo, toast.


    That’s one of my big problems with voting for a repub – any repub. In the end they all do as they are told.

    Yeah, I know. It took a while, but eventually Boehner fell into line and committed the ritual Seppuku his cohorts demanded.