At a September forum organized by South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint (R), a tea party favorite, the GOP candidates talked about what they would change if elected president. Gingrich went after the judiciary – a sure-fire hit with conservatives. He cited Thomas Jefferson and the Judicial Reform Act of 1802, which restructured the federal court system.
“I am not as bold as Thomas Jefferson,” Gingrich said. “I would do no more than eliminate Judge Biery in San Antonio and the Ninth Circuit. That’s the most I would go for.”
US District Judge Fred Biery earned Gingrich’s ire last spring when he disallowed a prayer by the valedictorian at a public high school graduation. The judge’s ruling was overturned by a federal appeals panel, but no matter. Gingrich still wants to can Judge Biery.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the largest of the 13 federal circuit courts, is often accused by conservatives of having a liberal bias. Judges are nominated by the president for a lifetime appointment, and confirmed (or rejected) by the Senate. Once confirmed, the only way to remove a federal judge is through impeachment.
“Let me say this, because I think this has to be part of our national debate,” Gingrich said at the Palmetto Freedom Forum. “That's not a rhetorical comment. I believe the legislative and executive branches have an obligation to defend the Constitution against judges who are tyrannical and who seek to impose un-American values on the people of the United States.”