Gingrich assails judges as he courts conservatives

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As he works to rev up his conservative base in Iowa with just two weeks to go until the state's caucuses, Newt Gingrich is launching a full-throated assault on a reliable GOP target: judges.

There is little love for the judicial branch among the Republicans seeking the White House. But Gingrich's ridicule has been, by far, the sharpest and the loudest. And it's taken a central role as his campaign struggles to stay atop polls in Iowa, a state where irate social conservatives ousted three judges who legalized same-sex marriage.

"I commend the people of Iowa for sending a strong signal that when judges overreach that they can find a new job," Gingrich told about 200 supporters who turned out to hear him speak in Davenport, Iowa, on Monday.

Gingrich has suggested that judges who issue what he termed "radical" rulings out of step with mainstream American values should be subpoenaed before Congress to explain themselves before facing possible impeachment. As president, he said, he'd consider dispatching U.S. marshals to round up judges who refuse to show voluntarily. In extreme cases, whole courts could be eliminated.

In the final debate before voters weigh in at the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, Gingrich called the courts "grotesquely dictatorial." He cast the fight in stark religious terms reminiscent of the culture wars, in which a secular, legal elite was encroaching on religious liberties.

The targets of Gingrich's strongest derision: the West Coast's 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a perennial punching bag for the right, and a federal judge in Texas who banned prayer in a public school.

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