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Drawing a Blank on the Bill of Rights

I doubt most Americans could name you which of the Amendments in the Bill of Rights protect which rights, but most Americans aren’t members of Congress:

“I’m drawing a blank on the Second Amendment, but I think it’s the weapons, isn’t it? The NRA?” he said, according to The Monitor.

If I ever get to establish Sebastianland, the first rule for holding office in Sebastianland will be to name each of the Amendments in the Bill of Rights and tell me what right they protect. I think that should be basic, required knowledge for being a member of Congress. How can I expect a person to uphold their oath of office if they don’t even know the document?

I sometimes think the biggest flaw in the Constitution is that we didn’t have more provisions to try to keep morons from holding public office. If you had to devise a constitutional system that filtered for morons, how would you do it?

h/t to Cam Edwards of Cam & Company

14 Responses to “Drawing a Blank on the Bill of Rights”

  1. Scott says:

    It absolutely should be a requirement of office. However, most civil service workers just mouth the words. Like it’s some sort of absurd ritual they have to mouth before being hired. I said them with pride and tried to follow them. then I left, because working for government is like having every day of your life be the worst day of your life, exponentially.

  2. Franksterm1 says:

    I’m surprised he wasn’t from NJ.

  3. Joe Huffman says:

    My initial response would be to have pop quizzes on the constitution at least once a month. Scoring 50% or less gets you immediately removed from office. 70% or lower twice in a row gets you removed from office.

    During the election the candidates get quizzed. The delta between the candidates scores is added/subtracted to the percentage of the vote they get. Hence if candidate A scored 95% and the candidate B scored 98%, the B would win the election with 47.1% versus A having 52.9% of the vote.

  4. NotClauswitz says:

    I’m less worried about morons and idiots than the wicked and evil.

    • Sage Thrasher says:

      Agreed. Conspiracy theories aren’t really needed to explain most of the inexplicable–stupidity pretty well covers it.

  5. Oranje Mike says:

    Makes for a good chuckle. I am more concerned, though, that he fails to grasp what the Second Amendment says and means.

  6. Sigivald says:

    I’m less annoyed by his lack of realizing which Amendment is involved (I mean, I don’t like it, but it’s not the big issue I have with him over there).

    What annoys me is that he thinks “machineguns” are a problem, and that the NRA cares about them.

    That tells me he hasn’t even paid enough attention to the NRA to figure out what they actually complain about, before demonizing them.

    And it tells me that he has literally no idea about what sort of weapons are used to commit crimes in this country – but at the same time thinks his awesome lawmaking skills are going to do something about the issue.

    That’s a much bigger problem than not knowing which Amendment is about guns – the problem is that he doesn’t care that there’s an Amendment about them, or what it says, or anything about the issue in any sort of factual manner.

  7. Sendarius says:

    How to filter out morons running for public office?

    Easy – to paraphrase Heinlein – anybody who WANTS the job can’t have it.

    Don’t have elections. Appoint people for a SHORT term from the pool of citizens – no excuses, no evasions.

    Citizen – defined as those who have received no money from the government in the previous five years (neither salary nor “assistance”, and you can say no to .gov “assistance”), and have passed a civics test.

    • Sage Thrasher says:

      Seriously, a lottery seems like a better system sometimes.

      • Harold says:

        One of William F. Buckley’s most famous quotes is “I am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.

        Note that our two major party candidates are both graduates of the Harvard Law School…. (As previously mentioned Romney did a dual program with Harvard Business School at the same time, passed the bar exam but never practiced law, that was his backup plan.)

        Note also that all of the Supremes attended Harvard Law except for Thomas, Alito and Sotomayor who attended Yale (although when Ginsberg’s “husband took a job in New York City, she transferred to Columbia Law School and became the first woman to be on two major law reviews” (Wikipedia)).

        (To defend the Yale law school I’d also note the Instapundit went there, and while he doesn’t have time to do much of our stuff (unless your name is Clayton Cramer and you write papers :-), he has a CCW, and a big grin when someone lent him a .50 BMG to shoot :-).

        Hmmm, Harry Reid got a J.D. at George Washington University Law School, Mitch McConnell attended the University of Kentucky College of Law (and when Wikipedia includes a quote that he “remains a rabid fan of its sports teams” they aren’t kidding: a friend of mine from that town who’s been staying there for while got a couple of snapshots of him mixing with the crowd at a game. Notably while he has “very nice seats” he doesn’t have a box or anything like that).

        Nancy Pelosi was born in a political family and didn’t get more than a polysci BA, John Boehner got a business administration degree and was a businessman for a dozen years or so until becoming a full time “public servant”.

        So outside of the House, the leaders of our political ruling class all have law degrees, and elite ones except for McConnell, super elite for the others (Yale #1, Harvard currently #3, George Washington is overall #20 with some top rank subspecialties. (I once worked closely on other issue with a patent lawyer who went there and he was top notch; then again, in a previous life he’d e.g. programmed a Z-80 micro to measure and report wear in a valve at a California nuclear power plant, so he had a big advantage going in.)

  8. karrde says:

    [sarc]
    They should have asked him which Amendment forbids the quartering of soldiers in the homes of citizens.
    [/sarc]

    • Harold says:

      In some ways that’s too easy.

      E.g., quick, tell me, which one covers the right to a jury trial?

      I.e. I know the contents of the Bill of Rights pretty well, but I’ve only got the first 3 memorized, the 5th Amendment right to not self-incriminate, and roughly what 4-8 and 9-10 cover, but not exactly which is where.

      I’m not so harsh on this sitting legislator thinking the 2nd covers the RKBA (he did get it right, after all, just wanted to make sure his memory was correct), I’m harsh on him ignoring it, and as eloquently commented Sigivald, “[…] that he has literally no idea about what sort of weapons are used to commit crimes in this country – but at the same time thinks his awesome lawmaking skills are going to do something about the issue.

      That’s the real problem and therefore the meme I’d like to push about this incident; whatever the topic. the man’s not fit for legislative office, full stop.

  9. Anon says:

    You can’t filter for morons. Plenty intellectual midgets have Harvard degrees.

    You could punish the violators though. Hold them accountable. Anyone voting for ( or signing into law ) a law later found unconstitutional shall be ineligible for election to public office. They finish out their term in shame, then disappear from public life forever.

    • Ian Argent says:

      Normally I find attempts to make public office difficult or unrenumerative to be counterproductive, but this one I’d think about.

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