Gingrich, Perry dismiss ability of courts to end anti-abortion law

Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry said during a GOP candidates forum Tuesday night that the Supreme Court should not be able to challenge anti-abortion measures.

Gingrich said legislation he would support as president would prohibit judicial review. Perry simply asserted that he would ignore a negative ruling by the Supreme Court in such a case.

The two candidates made the comments during a debate sponsored by Personhood USA, an anti-abortion-rights group that is pushing legislation to extend constitutional rights to the unborn. 

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Asked what he would do if the Supreme Court overturned so-called personhood legislation under a Perry administration, the Texas governor responded that obviously, you would enforce the right to life rather than the courts decision.

As for Gingrich, the former House Speaker said the solution would be to write the bill so it is not appealable.

I think you could write an exclusionary clause, he said.

The comments track with a White Paper on judicial activism that Gingrich published in October. The paper calls for setting limitations on federal court jurisdiction, among other proposals.

Gingrichs criticism of the courts plays well with some Christian conservatives who have long been dismayed by the 1973 Roe v. Wade case recognizing a federal right to abortion. Some conservatives and legal scholars, however, question the wisdom and legality of curtailing the courts powers.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) also appeared at the tele-town hall, which was broadcast on conservative Iowa radio personality Steve Deaces show. All have signed onto Personhood USAs pledge to support personhood legislation and constitutional amendments at the state and federal level.

Santorum said he would support legislation thatsimple and brief and to the point.

I feel very comfortable that we can make the case to the courts and to the American people, he said. Personhood amendments have failed every time theyve been on the ballot, once in Mississippi and twice in Colorado.

If the courts strike down such a law, Santorum said, you do what you do in every case when the court strikes it down: You fight.

Bachmann did not address the question.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has also signed the pledge but did not participate in the forum.

Personhood USA raised concerns Monday with Paul’s statement of support, which reiterates his preference for giving states rather than the federal government the right to ban abortion.

We understand his position that self-government comes with certain responsibilities, and that liberty implies allowing people to make mistakes, the group wrote in an open letter to Paul. But there is a critically important difference when we are speaking of abortion. With abortion the mistaken policy of the person with power is used to exterminate another, powerless, person: that is not the exercise of liberty but the most evil form of tyranny.

The open letter goes on to ask Paul specifically to explain:

• Where within our republican system of government does Paul find the federal protection of the right to life?

• Whether he believes that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment does not extend to unborn people; and

• If he believes in the unalienable right to life, why does he believe the federal Constitution, specifically the 10th Amendment, requires that the states have the authority to sanction murder, if they so choose?