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Rick Santorum Jokes About Sending Ninth Circuit Judges To Guam

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TILTON, N.H. -- Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum went after the judicial branch at a town hall meeting on Thursday morning, saying it was the weakest branch of government and joking about sending away liberal judges.

"Our founders intended for them to be the least consequential of the three branches of government," said Santorum. "How do I know that for a fact? Because it's Article III. Article I is Congress, Article II is the president and Article III is the courts. If it was the most important, they wouldn't have put it third."

He whipped out a pocket Constitution to make his point.

"How many courts are established in the Constitution? One!" he exclaimed. "Who establishes the other courts? The more powerful body. When people say -- they said this about Newt [Gingrich] and they said this about my plan -- that I want to abolish the Ninth Circuit, can the Congress abolish the Ninth Circuit? What the Congress creates, it can uncreate. So yes we can."

The Ninth Circuit is despised by many conservatives, who perceive it to have a liberal bent.

Santorum said that if the court were to be abolished, he had "some ideas" about what to do with the judges, a comment that elicited laughter from the audience. He then joked about sending the judges to Guam.

"I want to be responsive and I want to be respectful of the Constitution because there is a provision that judges are appointed for life. Now maybe we can create a court that puts them in Guam or something like that so they can keep their life appointments, and appoint a whole bunch of new judges to different circuits," he said.

"Realistically, we can probably do something that's actually been proposed a lot in the past, which is to take the Ninth Circuit -- which is by far the biggest circuit -- and cut it in two, and take maybe all the judges and stick them in California, and then give all these states who have had to suffer under the reign of terror of California judges and give them their own court so they can actually reflect the values of the Western states," added Santorum.

Gingrich, a former House Speaker, has received the most attention among the candidates for his controversial views regarding the judicial branch. He has said he believes Congress should have the ability to subpoena judges and question them about decisions with which they disagree, and that the federal government should be able to arrest judges for their rulings. Santorum has repeatedly stated that he thinks some of Gingrich's ideas go too far and would violate the balance of powers built into government.

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