There is something that is certainly bold and fresh about a statement like that. Especially when it is compared in the context that Gingrich is explaining it. He is absolutely correct. To defy the supreme court would not be a president setting issue for him or any other president.
Obama has already done the exact same thing with his response to the supreme court decision on involving campaign financing when he remarked: “open the floodgates for special interests” to spend unlimited amounts in support of candidates.
It remains to be seen how Gingrich's remarks will be perceived, just as it remains to be seen if he can obtain the nomination or the presidency.
As another example: The state of Georgia became involved in a contentious jurisdictional dispute with the Cherokees, culminating in the 1832 U.S. Supreme Court decision (Worcester v. Georgia), which ruled that Georgia could not impose its laws upon Cherokee tribal lands. President Andrew Jackson is often quoted (regarding the decision) as having said, "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it!"
Defying the Court
Newt Gingrich says as president he would ignore Supreme Court decisions that conflicted with his powers as commander in chief, and he would press for impeaching judges or even abolishing certain courts if he disagreed with their rulings.
"I'm fed up with elitist judges" who seek to impose their "radically un-American" views, Gingrich said Saturday in a conference call with reporters.
In recent weeks, the Republican presidential contender has been telling conservative audiences he is determined to expose the myth of "judicial supremacy" and restrain judges to a more limited role in American government. "The courts have become grotesquely dictatorial and far too powerful," he said in Thursday's Iowa debate.
As a historian, Gingrich said he knows President Thomas Jefferson abolished some judgeships, and President Abraham Lincoln made clear he did not accept the Dred Scott decision denying that former slaves could be citizens.
Relying on those precedents, Gingrich said that if he were in the White House, he would not feel compelled to always follow the Supreme Court's decisions on constitutional questions. As an example, he cited the court's 5-4 decision in 2008 that prisoners held by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had a right to challenge their detention before a judge.
"That was clearly an overreach by the court," Gingrich said Saturday. The president as commander in chief has the power to control prisoners during wartime, making the court's decision "null and void," he said.