Civics for Dummies

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On this, the eve of our country’s birthday celebration, I am compelled to vent about the amazing lack of basic understanding of the way our government is designed that so many citizens seem to have.  So, in case you also have forgotten your 5th grade Civics and/ or never watched Schoolhouse Rock on Saturday mornings, here is the US Government in a nutshell:

There are 3 branches of the US and all state governments-  Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.

Executive is headed by the President or Governor.  They enforce the laws and in some cases have veto power.  They perform various ceremonial duties.  In the case of the President they are also the Chief Commander of the Armed Forces and head of foreign policy.  Legislative is the Congress and Senate.  Most states have the same 2 branches as well, but a few have only one.  They  are responsible for passing laws and are supposed to vote in the way that best serves the people in their district who elected them.  Judicial is the court system.  Of course the Supreme Court is the highest court in the state/ country. They interpret the laws based on the Constitution of the country/ state.

Judicial seems to be the area of the most confusion.  In spite of what a lot of people seem to think Supreme Court justices are NOT supposed to rule based on popular opinion or even their own person opinion.  Their job is to determine if the law set before them to debate violates the Constitution or not.  Period.  End of story.  

Here in my adopted home state of Iowa we have a group called LUV, which stands for “Let Us Vote”.  This group successfully got 3 Iowa Supreme Court justices voted out of office some time back simply because they did not agree with those justices’ ruling on legalizing same sex marriages in the state. And they are back this year to try to get another judge voted out.  Clearly these people slept through 5th grade Civics.  If you don’t like a law you write your Congressman.  I didn’t think this was a difficult concept, but apparently I’m wrong.  I’ve even heard of people talking about voting out Supreme Court justices over Obamacare.  Now, I don’t care what your opinion on that ruling is, you tell me the last time you voted for a Supreme court justice??!?!?  I weep for my country.

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