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Scott Brown lambastes Newt Gingrich for his attacks on the judiciary

Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown today denounced Newt Gingrich’s attacks on elements of the nation’s judiciary system, saying the former House speaker’s plans would undermine the fundamental governing principle of the separation of powers.

“Gingrich styles himself a historian, but he is either blissfully unaware that the Founding Fathers deliberately established our government with three co-equal branches of government, or he is fully aware of that elementary fact and yet is pandering to the right-wing extreme element in our own party,’’ Brown, a Republican, wrote in an opinion column in today’s Boston Globe. “I do not know which is worse.”

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Gingrich, who is campaigning for president today in New Hampshire, has fired fusillades of criticism against judges and whole courts in the past month. As president, Gingrich has said, he would consider dispatching US marshals bearing subpoenas to force judges to appear before Congress to review controversial decisions.

He would then urge Congress to impeach those who do not satisfactorily explain themselves.

He also has said he would work to abolish whole courts whose decisions do not reflect the views of the country.

Gingrich said such aggressive action is necessary to battle the “steady encroachment of secularism through the courts to redefine America as a nonreligious country and the encroachment of the courts on the president’s commander-in-chief powers, which is enormously dangerous.”

Brown, who backs the presidential candidacy of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, said Gingrich’s prescriptions would have a chilling effect on the judiciary system.

“Judges would be deciding cases while constantly looking over their shoulder at the possibility of retaliation from politicians,’’ he wrote. “Public confidence in the impartiality of the courts would be shattered. If a president and majorities in Congress could simply overturn the constitutional interpretations of the court, and if judges could be arrested for displeasing politicians in the other two branches, we would be placing our basic rights in jeopardy.

“The rule of law would be destroyed.’’

Brown is a lawyer who also serves as a lieutenant colonel in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of the National Guard. As senator, he said, he takes Congress’ responsibility of advice and consent seriously and has backed 90 percent of President Obama’s nominees for the federal bench.

He faces a tough re-election battle in November against the presumed Democratic nominee, Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law School professor.

Brown ended his column with a nod to the upcoming GOP primary in New Hampshire.

“That Newt Gingrich would make the courts tremble at the thought of retaliation from the president or whatever political party has the majority at the time is a very dangerous notion that threatens the founding principles of our government. If the former speaker doesn’t publicly disavow these views, the voters in New Hampshire and elsewhere will disavow his views on this issue.’’

Michael Bailey can be reached at m_bailey@globe.com
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