NEWT GINGRICH challenges the belief that the Supreme Court is the final authority on the Constitution, and Jeff Jacoby says it’s about time ( “Supreme Court can’t be absolute,’’ Op-ed, Jan. 1). “The judiciary,’’ Jacoby writes, “is intended to be a co-equal branch of government, not a paramount one.’’ Surely he recognizes that the three branches of government serve unique roles. We don’t look to the Supreme Court to declare war or manage the federal budget. On the other hand, a primary responsibility of the Supreme Court is to enforce the Constitution when it is politically unpopular to do so. That is not a responsibility we would entrust to Congress.
Jacoby’s assertion that the branches should be “co-equal’’ is blind to this big picture. Citing the Dred Scott decision is equally specious. Yes, Dred Scott is recognized as one of the most flawed Supreme Court decisions ever. It is also a part of our history that made slavery legal, and over which we fought the Civil War.
Were a Gingrich president then, would he have sent federal marshals to seize the justices and force them to defend their decision before Congress? Or, since so many vocal Americans welcomed that decision, might a Gingrich have supported it, too?