Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who plans within two weeks to announce if he will run for president, said today that if President Obama doesn't change his mind and order his Justice Department to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, Republicans in Congress should strike back and even consider impeachment proceedings.
"I believe the House Republicans next week should pass a resolution instructing the president to enforce the law and to obey his own constitutional oath, and they should say if he fails to do so that they will zero out [defund] the office of attorney general and take other steps as necessary until the president agrees to do his job," said Gingrich. "His job is to enforce the rule of law and for us to start replacing the rule of law with the rule of Obama is a very dangerous precedent."
He didn't call for immediate impeachment hearings, but didn't rule them out if Obama balks at any congressional demands to enforce the law.
[Update: A Gingrich spokesman writes to say that Gingrich did not raise the impeachment issue himself. "Gingrich never raised impeachment nor did he say we were in a constitutional crisis," the Gingrich spokesman says. "His remarks, as can be seen in the video, were to illustrate the hypocrisy of the media and the left. He explicitly says that Obama did not intend to spark a constitutional crisis but that the president is acting outside of his constitutional role, but that does not mean that there is a constitutional crisis."]
Gingrich made his comments to Newsmax TV which has become the go-to place for potential GOP presidential candidates to make news. Just this week Mike Huckabee visited and Newsmax says that Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty plan to stop by next week. [See editorial cartoons on gay marriage.]
The president's decision not to enforce the law that protects traditional marriage was a major policy switch and was seen as a bow to the gay community that has pushed hard to win the right to marriage in many states. Gays have been politically active for Obama, though some have been critical of his defense of traditional marriage. [See editorial cartoons about President Obama.]
Just today, the president also gave another olive branch to the community, naming the first gay social secretary for the White House. According to the Advocate, a gay journal, Jeremy Bernard has served in several gay organizations and most recently was the assistant to the U.S. ambassador to France. [See photos of the Obamas behind the scenes.]
Gingrich's call for quick GOP reaction to the Justice Department's decision to stop enforcing the marriage act was seen as a bid for the conservative and Tea Party vote, a base he would rely on if he decides to get into the presidential race.
In talking about the president's action, in fact, he raised Sarah Palin's name and suggested that she would be under fire if she ever decided not to enforce a major social law. "Imagine that Governor Palin had become president. Imagine that she had announced that Roe v. Wade in her view was unconstitutional and therefore the United States government would no longer protect anyone's right to have an abortion because she personally had decided it should be changed. The news media would have gone crazy. The New York Times would have demanded her impeachment," said Gingrich. [See photos of Palin and her family.]
Gingrich noted that Obama supported the law during the campaign. "He is breaking his word to the American people," Gingrich said. Also, he added, "He swore an oath on the Bible to become president that he would uphold the Constitution and enforce the laws of the United States. He is not a one-person Supreme Court. The idea that we now have the rule of Obama instead of the rule of law should frighten everybody. The fact that the left likes the policy is allowing them to ignore the fact that this is a very unconstitutional act," Gingrich said.