February 23, 2011

Civics Lesson

A bunch of Godly white men, many of them slaveholders, met in various eastern cities. They made this document after a constitutional convention or two. They said, "Il sera!" and then l'etais. The law has always followed their intent ...or not

The elementary civics lesson is that the government is like paper-rock-scissors, with each branch having some control over the others. The dual chambers in the legislative branch make the rules, but the executive branch has to say it is ok. Then, if someone thinks they were wrong, they can bring it to the judicial branch, which is like climbing steep stairs. If you can appeal to the Supreme court and they agree with you, the law is overturned. If they don't agree with you, or don't bother to listen to you, you are essentially wrong. And you remain wrong unless someone in the future has a similar problem and takes the same steps and this time there's a different make-up of the court. Then you can be right where you were once wrong.

For example, black people were once property even though they counted in the census (native Americans were 'untaxed people' and didn't count at all!). A black who was not property sued, asking "Can I be a citizen?" And the infinitely wise court told Dredd Scott "I don't think so." That's case law.

A dozen years and a war later we passed through legislation saying, "Sorry about that. You can be a citizen if you were born in the country."

And fifty years later we let ladies vote too.