#1: Gingrich Has Promised a Constitutional Showdown on His First Day in Office

Republicans would be well advised to avoid a candidate who has committed to order a Constitutional showdown on his first day in office.

During an appearance in South Carolina on January 18, Gingrich said:

The President interprets the Constitution as President…. If the court makes a fundamentally wrong decision, the President can, in fact, ignore the courts.

One may well ask how likely Gingrich would be to actually carry out such a radical idea. The only problem is that Gingrich also said:

I fully expect, as President, that there will be several occasions when we [Gingrich and the Supreme Court] will collide.

Gingrich actually promised to provoke his first Constitutional showdown on his first day in office. He said that he would order the “national security apparatus” to ignore the Supreme Court’s Boumediene decision, which ruled that Guantánamo Bay detainees have the right to challenge their detention in US court.

Gingrich’s plans for Constitutional brinkmanship seem to match too well with his views that were revealed during the House ethics investigation that I discussed in a previous blog entry. The ethics committee’s report cited a Gringich quote that provides worrisome insights into his thinking:

Mr. Gingrich told the New York Times that he acted very aggressively in regard to 501(c)(3) law: ‘Whoa,’ [Mr. Gingrich] said, when asked after class one recent Saturday if the course nears the edge of what the law allows. ‘Goes right up to the edge. What’s the beef? Doesn’t go over the edge, doesn’t break any law, isn’t wrong. It’s aggressive, it’s entrepreneurial, it’s risk taking.’

I find it frightening that a Republican presidential candidate would consider himself, as President, to be far enough above the law that he has promised to defy a Supreme Court ruling. Even more frightening is the idea that 40% of the Republican electorate in South Carolina voted for Gingrich three days after he promised to stage a Constitutional showdown on his first day in office. One can only hope that they weren’t aware of his views on Presidential supremacy.

Gingrich’s current views and past behavior make me think that Republicans would be far wiser to choose Romney, the candidate who seems much more likely to work for change within the scope of our Constitutional system.