The Republican Party loves to assert that the Democrats, and progressives in particular, are attacking the Constitution, and that they are the experts on the Constitution.
So therefore, in this Presidential primary season, and in the party membership in Congress, there are statements constantly attacking the court system, anytime that a federal judge or court issues a decision against the conservative view of the Constitution. There are condemnations and calls to change the court system on a regular basis.
One would think that the Democrats and their progressive friends have dominated the courts in recent decades, which, of course, is the exact opposite of the truth!
One forgets that from 1969-2011, there have been only 15 years of Democratic control of the Presidency, as compared to 28 years of Republican control.
The vast majority of federal judges have been Republican appointments, as a result, and Republican Presidents have made a total of 13 Supreme Court appointments over those years, and Democrats have made only 4, two by Bill Clinton and two by Barack Obama!
But now,. Newt Gingrich calls for judges to be required to testify before partisan Congressional committees, a violation of the separation of powers, and a danger to an independent judiciary!
What it comes down to is that Newt Gingrich and all of the Republican opponents, with maybe the exception of Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, wish to create a court system that would move away from the path breaking changes that the Supreme Court brought about during the years of the Warren Court, Burger Court, and Rehnquist Court including:
Brown V. Board Of Education
Miranda V Arizona
Roe V Wade
University Of California V. Bakke
Lawrence V Texas
As it is, there are threats presented by the Republican growth of dominance on the federal courts to all of these issues–racial integration, rights of criminal suspects, abortion rights, affirmative action, and gay rights.
The Republicans will not be contented until there are reversals on all of these issues, and a return to the “good old days”, when minorities “knew their place”; police had unlimited rights over those they questioned or arrested; women had no control over their reproductive rights; minorities and women had disadvantages, as compared to white males, on educational and job opportunities; and gays were forced to remain “in the closet” and face open discrimination and hate without recourse!
So when the Republicans claim to understand what the Founding Fathers meant at the Constitutional Convention, they are forgetting that those esteemed leaders put into the Constitution the “Elastic Clause” to allow for expansion of the Constitution beyond the original document, in order to make the Constitution a “living document” adaptable to changing times.
The real threat is not what the federal courts have done in the past sixty years! It is the attempt of conservatives and the Republican Party to negate the great progress brought about the Supreme Court and lower courts in the past sixty years, and revert back to the years after World War II, when all of these great changes started slowly to evolve through courageous judges and Supreme Court Justices, including Earl Warren, William Brennan, Hugo Black, William O. Douglas, Thurgood Marshall, Harry Blackmun, John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.