Constitution Lessons For The GOP Candidates

September 17 is Constitution Day, in commemoration of the day the Constitution was signed in 1787. Constitution Day became a day of national observance in 2004 to celebrate the document that lays down the law. The way I see it, Constitution Day is also a great opportunity to fill ourselves in on some constitutional knowledge and important amendments, etc. that affect our everyday lives (which is a lot of the Constitution). Because this document dictates pretty much everything about the way our government is run, it's an extremely important body of information for all of us to be aware of, and for politicians who are charged with upholding the Constitution, this is particularly important. Which is why I'm a little bit concerned that some of the GOP candidates are behind on their Constitution knowledge.

The Constitution is an imperfect document, and is open to different interpretations, of course. There are and have been problems with the Constitution, which is why there is an allowance for amendments. But even if the Constitution isn't always what we want it to be, and even if changes can be made, it's vital that we have a basic understanding of its contents (even when we don't agree with all of it). Here are some constitutional factoids that the GOP candidates could stand to brush up on.

The Role Of The Supreme Court


Rick Santorum has stated repeatedly that Supreme Court rulings are not necessarily "the law of the land" since the Supreme Court decided in June that gay marriage is legal in all 50 states. But according to the Constitution, under Article Three, which discusses the role of the Supreme Court, "The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish." So that's that.

The Equal Rights Amendment


This tidbit has something to do with a crucial amendment that is currently missing from the Constitution. The Equal Rights Amendment, which would provide women with equal protections under the law, was introduced to Congress in 1923, and has still yet to be ratified. The GOP candidates have yet to publicly discuss the ERA, and it's about time they should start.

Birthright Citizenship

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This is one specifically for Donald Trump, who has consistently stated that children of illegal immigrants who are born in the U.S. are here illegally. While Trump would like to see the Constitution amended so that birthright citizenship would no longer exists in the U.S., native-born children of parents living in the U.S. illegally are in fact legal U.S. citizens according to the Constitution. It's one thing for Trump to lay out his immigration policy, but it is constitutionally inaccurate to refer to U.S.-born children parented by illegal immigrants as "illegal."

The Legislative Process In General ...

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All presidential candidates make sweeping promises when they are seeking a nomination, or at least lay out ambitious plans for policies they would change or laws they would create. For example, Ben Carson has said he would change the tax policy to the 10 percent tithe model laid out in the Bible. The way they all talk about these lofty plans, it sounds like they think every decision is an executive order, when in fact the vast majority of the time, legislative power rests with Congress.