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Sign our Petition to Require Officials to Pass Test to Hold Office

In recent months, several legislators have wasted public funds by proposing legislation that would either circumvent Constitutional law, or is redundant because of Constitutional protection, in order to further their personal agendas.

For example, in April of 2013, North Carolina state officials attempted to pass a bill that would allow them to declare a state religion – a clear violation of the First Amendment. Legislators felt the Establishment Clause did not apply to the states, displaying their lack of awareness of the Fourteenth Amendment and related Supreme Court decisions. Presumably because of national attention and public outcry from non-Christians, the proposal was shot down before anyone was able to vote on it.

In May of the same year, the Louisiana House and Senate passed a bill they called the Civil Liberties Defense Act. The bill was nicknamed the “anti-Sharia bill” because of its basic intention. It stated that no foreign law could be adopted or enforced in Missouri if it did not coincide with the Missouri or U.S. constitutions.  The creators of this bill were intending to prevent Sharia Law from being enacted in Missouri, although no threat of such thing has ever been detected (Missouri has a Muslim population of less than 0.8%). SB-267 was later vetoed by the level-headed governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, who deemed it unnecessary, saying it “seeks to solve a problem that does not exist.” The bill was a true waste of time and money, since the U.S. is already protected by way of the First Amendment.

These are just a couple examples of proposed legislation that even a first-year undergraduate law student would laugh at as completely ridiculous. These bills are a complete waste of taxpayer money.  Instead of dealing with real problems faced in the United States, lawmakers have shifted their focus onto nonsense proposals that violate the U.S. Constitution, and their colleagues have supported them wholeheartedly.

In order to help prevent such waste, a petition has been created on whitehouse.gov to require any person running for city, county, state, or federal government positions to take and pass a test on the U.S. Constitution. Please help support this positive change by clicking the link below to read and sign the petition and share the link on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Reddit, as well as any and all other social media sites you may use.

Sign the petition here >>

Can anyone rationally argue against our elected officials having Constitutional knowledge?

Originally posted to Secular Party of America on Fri Jun 07, 2013 at 07:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  Doesn't seem practical to me. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    misslegalbeagle, nextstep

    First of all, wouldn't this change require amending not only the U.S. Constitution, but also all of the state constitutions?  
    Second of all, who designs and grades the test?  Would President Palin be able to re-write the test to reflect David Barton's interpretation of the Constitution?

    I think the effort would be better spent trying to create a more educated electorate.

    •  Of course more detail is needed (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NationalAtheistParty

      Unfortunately the White House petition site does not allow for enough space to lay out the gory details. It's merely the first step in proposing ideas.  Yes, a more educated electorate is a goal but ensuring that our elected officials know what's in the Constitution and Bill of Rights is a must.  There is a seemingly endless amount of quotes out there from politicians that show us how little they know about the Constitution and our nation's history.  It's downright embarrassing. Something needs to be done to be sure our officials know what they're sworn in to uphold.

    •  We are trying to make a statement here... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DividedUnderGod

      That our representatives are blatantly misinformed or just don't care about the constitution.

      This is not a "solution" of course - it's a petition to gain notice.

      How are we supposed to have a more educated electorate when our representatives are trying to replace science in the classrooms with classes about creationism?

      That's exactly what this petition is about...

  •  This is a terrible idea. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bill W, nextstep
    In order to help prevent such waste, a petition has been created on whitehouse.gov to require any person running for city, county, state, or federal government positions to take and pass a test on the U.S. Constitution.
    What it really sounds like you want is a test that doesn't just get at facts about the Constitution (what section describes the powers of Congress, what amendment prohibits slavery, etc.) but gets to interpretation of the Constitution—and legally bars from office people whose interpretation of the Constitution does not match an interpretation deemed authoritative.

    You also seem to be operating under the delusion that the people empowered to decide on the authoritative interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, disagreement with which would bar a person from holding any office in local, state, or federal government, would be people whose opinions agree with yours.

    Given that the House of Representatives, many state governments, and one of our major political parties are dominated by people who think that Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, and the Department of Education are unconstitutional, how would advocating for this policy not be giving them a tool they could use to permanently bar anyone to the left of Ted Cruz from holding any position in government?

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Fri Jun 07, 2013 at 08:17:45 AM PDT

    •  Not looking for interpretation (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NationalAtheistParty

      I'm not looking to test politicians' interpretation of the Constitution, just the facts of what's contained.  

      This is not a tool to remove people from office... It's a tool to prohibit people from buying their way into winning an election without demonstrating that they know what's in the Constitution.  It's not a solve-every-problem answer, but it's a start at preventing embarrassing and frivolous legislation from being considered and/or backed by the legislative masses.

      •  Opinion is not fact. Interpretation is not fact. (0+ / 0-)
        I'm not looking to test politicians' interpretation of the Constitution, just the facts of what's contained.
        So as long as they know what the text of the First Amendment is, they're good?

        I'd wager that virtually all of the people proposing the bills you oppose here know what the First Amendment says, and are fully aware that their interpretation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments is contrary to Supreme Court opinions from the past 75 years or so.

        So it still comes down to the fact that you're suggesting one of two things: Either a "just the facts" test about the text of the Constitution itself that the candidates you want to stop could pass with very little difficulty, or an interpretive test where candidates are required to agree with a particular interpretation of the Constitution in order to hold office.

        The former would not serve any purpose; the latter would be, at best, an exercise in only getting politicians on record as being unwilling to disrupt the status quo, and at worst a means by which Tea Partiers could exclude from office anyone to the left of Ted Cruz.

        Again, I reiterate: This is a terrible idea.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Fri Jun 07, 2013 at 11:41:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for your input (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NationalAtheistParty

          We'll agree to disagree.  Based on the following quotes from politicians, I'd argue they aren't so hot on Constitutional knowledge.  

          Herman Cain: "for the benefit of those who are not going to read it because they don’t want us to go by the Constitution, there’s a little section in there that talks about “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  EMBARRASSING

          John Boehner: "This is my copy of the Constitution. And I'm gonna stand here with my Founding Fathers who wrote in the Preamble, We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."  EMBARRASSING

          And then there's Michele Bachmann, although not necessarily referring to the content of the Constitution, refers to the authors: “we also know that the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States.”  

          If these ignorant people are ok with you to represent us, then don't sign the petition.  But if you feel like I do, that someone in public office ought to know what's in the Constitution and possibly who wrote it, then please sign.  If 99% of candidates pass, then more power to them. But I'm more interested in making sure the 1% who fails not be permitted to propose laws in this land.

          •  Then There's Louie Gohmert (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            NationalAtheistParty
            Rep. Louie Gohmert, who claimed that the recent Aurora mass shooting was because of attacks on religion, just introduced the CHURCH bill which would place a plaque in the Capitol to recognize the "seven decades of Christian church services being held in the Capitol from 1800 to 1868." Mr. Gohmert's blatant disregard of the separation of church and state is worrisome to nonreligious and religious Americans alike.

            --American Humanist Association

            The text of the miserable thing is here.

            From a practical standpoint, there's never going to be any official test of constitutional understanding for candidates; but it would certainly be worthwhile for their ignorant statements to be thrown back at them in public forums, LTE's, etc.

            "Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything even remotely true." -- H. Simpson

            by midnight lurker on Fri Jun 07, 2013 at 04:14:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Tactics ≠ Goals. (0+ / 0-)
            If these ignorant people are ok with you to represent us, then don't sign the petition.
            Now you're committing another error, which is to confuse disagreement on tactics with disagreement on goals.

            Those ignoramuses are not okay with me to represent us, but I don't think the solution is to create a barrier to elected office that the right-wingers would be all but certain to use to absolutely annihilate progressive political power. Rather, the solution is to expose their ignorance and persuade the American people to reject them at the polls.

            This piece doesn't just propose barring from public office those who believe that the words of the Declaration of Independence are in the Constitution; it also proposes barring from public office those who disagree with the currently prevailing interpretation of the Constitution's protections for freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.

            While I completely agree with the currently prevailing interpretation, I absolutely cannot support any measure that considers any interpretation of law as so completely authoritative as to require that those who disagree with it be legally disqualified from holding public office. It would set a terrible precedent and would put an incredibly powerful weapon in the hands of our opponents.

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Sat Jun 08, 2013 at 08:55:10 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  That's our main goal (0+ / 0-)

              Now that the petition is live, we are going to use it as a tool to showcase the "ignoramuses" that misinterpret the constitution. This petition is really just a springboard.

              Will we get to 100,000 signatures by July 8? Likely not.

              But having the petition public now allows us to have a broader conversation on the topic. We were pushing very hard to get it public (150 sigs needed). We hit it yesterday and it's almost tripled in signatures in less than 18 hours...

  •  I'll sign no such petition (0+ / 0-)

    As my Methodist Sunday school teacher said, "Nobody quotes the Bible better than the Devil." I wish they'd do away with that petition thing, or at least  the guarantee that  a certain number of signatures gets a White House response.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Fri Jun 07, 2013 at 11:25:17 PM PDT

    •  That damned 1st Amendment (0+ / 0-)

      Petitioning the government is a 1st Amendment staple and something that preserves our democracy. Why would you ever want to do away with it?

      •  Petitioning government is a 1st Amendment right... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DJ Rix

        ...but getting rid of the White House petition site would in absolutely no way curtail that right.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Sat Jun 08, 2013 at 08:57:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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