Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich went off on the American judicial system during Thursday night's GOP debate, saying courts have become "grotesquely dictatorial, far too powerful and ... frankly arrogant in their misreading of the American people."
Gingrich has called for the abolition of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which is despised by conservatives for many of its liberal rulings.
Referencing the Ninth Circuit, Gingrich said that judges who believe the phrase "One nation, under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance violates the separation of church and state are "radically Anti-American" and should not be wearing the robe.
"I taught a short course in this at the University of Georgia Law School, and I testified in front of sitting justices at Georgetown Law School and I warned them, 'You keep attacking the core base of the American exceptionalism, and you will find an uprising against you which will rebalance the judiciary.' We have a balance of three branches -- not a judicial dictatorship in this country. ... I will be prepared to take on the judiciary if it in fact did not restrict itself in what it was doing."
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said she agreed with Gingrich that the judiciary has become too powerful. She said it was up to Congress and the president to take the power back.
"Because now we have gotten to the point where we think the final arbiter of law is the court system. It isn't. The intention of the founders was that the courts would be the least powerful system of government. And if we give to the courts the right to make law, then the people will have lost their representation. They need to hold onto their representation."
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) also advocated against abolishing courts and allowing Congress to subpoena judges to account for their decisions, as Gingrich suggested, saying it may "open up a can of worms."
"Yes, we are frustrated with this," he said. "But the whole thing is if you just say, 'Well, we are going to -- okay, there are 10 courts. Let's get rid of three this year because they ruled a way we didn't like.' That to me is, I think, opening up a can of worms for us and would lead to trouble. But I really, really question this idea that the Congress could subpoena judges and bring them before us. That is a real affront to the separation of the powers."