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To many, this sounds shocking. But if it does, do not lay the shock at Mr. Gingrich’s door; lay it at Congress‘ door.

Congress passed the law (and, in fact, re-enacted it 80 years later) that became codified at Section 192 of Title 2 of the U.S. Code, which says, “Every person who having been summoned as a witness by the authority of either House of Congress to give testimony or to produce papers upon any matter under inquiry before either House … willfully makes default … shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 nor less than $100 and imprisonment in a common jail for not less than one month nor more than twelve months.”

So, the question is not whether Mr. Gingrich is right or wrong; the question is whether his suggestions ought to be pursued. On this question, it is imperative to remember why Alexander Hamilton stated that the judiciary would be the weakest branch: “There never can be danger that the judges, by a series of deliberate usurpations on the authority of the legislature, would hazard the united resentment of the body intrusted with it, while this body was possessed of the means of punishing their presumption, by degrading them from their stations.” To that we need only add the comment of Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story:The Constitution does not “suppose that a majority of the House of Representatives will corruptly refuse to impeach.”

Stephen W. Fitschen is the president of the National Legal Foundation and the author of “Impeaching Federal Judges: A Covenantal and Constitutional Response to Judicial Tyranny,” which was cited 25 times by Griffin Bell, attorney general under President Carter, in his written testimony at the Clinton impeachment hearings.