ABOTA Responds to Court Bashing in Presidential Politics

Dec 27, 2011, 12:18 ET from American Board of Trial Advocates

DALLAS, Dec. 27, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being released by Harry T. Widmann, National President of the American Board of Trial Advocates:

To the Editor:

Incredibly, Newt Gingrich, a major candidate for President, has claimed that, if elected, he would disregard Supreme Court rulings with which he disagreed.  He has further endorsed the notion that Congress should direct U.S. Marshals to apprehend judges and compel them to submit to Congressional questioning about unpopular rulings.  And he would eliminate entire courts or remove a judge if he disliked their opinions.  In short, even though he would take an oath to uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States, he would not honor that oath.

The American Board of Trial Advocates, a nonpartisan national organization dedicated to the preservation of our justice system, strongly repudiates Mr. Gingrich's attacks upon our courts.

In an act of collective genius our Founding Fathers crafted a Constitution, safeguarded by checks and balances between three separate and equal branches of government (executive, legislative and judicial).  Because of their abiding devotion to the rule of law, the Founders provided for an independent judiciary that would remain above the political fray and have the final say in interpreting the Constitution and federal statutes.  Alexander Hamilton eloquently explained this in Federalist Paper No. 78 when he wrote that, "The interpretation of the laws is the proper and peculiar province of the courts."  Conservatives and liberals alike have embraced this concept for over two hundred years.  Loyalty to this ideal prevented Franklin Delano Roosevelt from stacking the Supreme Court in the 1930's. 

Those inclined to endorse Mr. Gingrich's position should heed Gov. Romney's admonition that it would provoke a constitutional crisis.  Indeed it would.  Ponder this:  What if President Clinton had attempted to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling terminating the challenge of the 2000 election and then declared Al Gore to be the President?  Do any doubt it would have resulted in anarchy?  Sometime next year our Supreme Court could declare the individual health insurance mandate unconstitutional.  Who among us would tolerate President Obama disregarding such a decision?

To disagree with a judge or a judicial decision is the right of every American. However, to advocate for the elimination of a judicial bench or court because of such disagreement shows a profound disrespect for the rule of law and for the basic principles of our Constitution.

Americans need to remember that our courts, insulated as they are from political manipulation, represent the last line of defense for our precious individual liberties.  In the words of Daniel Webster, "The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." Independent courts hold the executive and legislative branches true to our constitutional guarantees.  Americans should register a high index of suspicion when politicians of any stripe propose to ignore court decisions they do not like. 

Harry T. Widmann
American Board of Trial Advocates
2001 Bryan St., Suite 3000
Dallas, TX  75201
(214) 871-7523

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SOURCE American Board of Trial Advocates