Friday, March 25, 2011

Elementary Civics

Okay, so when life gets busy and heavy with "issues"--which it often does when one is raising teens!--one's ability to wax philosophical about things becomes limited.  But I simply must break into the spiritual, psychological, emotional stuff we've been enmeshed in to write briefly of my political outrage.

Not that anyone cares, mind you, but as an American citizen and as an educator, I am confused by the latest developments concerning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on the part of President Obama and his Administration.  If I correctly understand the situation--which I admit it is possible I don't--where is the outcry?  Why are civics and history teachers around the country not up in arms at what is happening?  Are students being told?  Are adults even aware?  Do people even care?

A very basic presentation of the "separation of powers" and the "three branches of government" that I teach my children in the young elementary years should suffice for anyone over the age of ten to understand that what President Obama is advocating is not constitutional.  He claims that he and his Attorney General have "concluded" that the DOMA is "unconstitutional"--and that they will therefore cease "to defend it."    Excuse me?  Did I miss something?!

At the risk of over-simplification, let me sum up the elementary civics lesson as I thought I understood it:
The U.S. Constitution gives the Judicial Branch the exclusive task and authority for ruling on the constitutionality of any given law.  (Not that they always do a good job of doing so, but the task is squarely--and solely--on their shoulders!)  The Constitution gives the Legislative Branch the exclusive task and authority for making such laws.  And it gives the Executive Branch the exclusive task and authority for executing such laws.

So, what's up with a President who is, by decree, assuming the power to overrule the other branches of government?!  The DOMA was the law of the land, passed by both houses of Congress and signed by President Clinton.  Since when does the Executive Branch have the authority to "conclude" that it is unconstitutional?

Chuck Colson has some sobering thoughts on this issue:

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