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The Sandra Day O'Connor Civics Quiz

It says here that a recent poll suggests Americans don’t know dookey about their government. Not to fear, however. The American Bar Association is on the case. They have asked the impartial and always lucid Sandra Day O’Conner to co-chair a civics education commission. A worthy endeavor, to be sure, and who better to tell the American people how the system really works than someone who has spent the last quarter century mauling the Constitution?

In the spirit of community education, we here at the Seventh Age offer the following quiz for anyone who is a little foggy on how all this wacky government stuff works.

Stare decisis
a. a famous painting by Van Gogh
b. an unreleased Abba album
c. The principal that appropriate precedent decisions are to be followed by the courts
d. The principal that appropriate precedent decisions are to be followed by the courts, except when ideologically inconvenient

Independent judiciary
a. what the Declaration of Independence established
b. the political philosophy that claims the Supreme Court should have its own armed forces
c. the principle that federal judges should be free from direct coercion by other political entities
d. the principle that federal judges can invent the law without being shackled to the stodgy old Constitution

Judicial review
a. listening to the Beatles' "Hey Jude" over and over again to listen for backward masking
b. Looking back over the Supreme Court’s most recent term to take note of what new individual rights have been invented
c. The concept that the Supreme Court holds the power to judge the constitutionality of acts of the legislative and executive branches
d. A potent system of total political domination

Separation of powers
a. Keeping the Supreme Court’s executive, legislative and judicial pronouncements filed correctly
b. When legislative power is stripped from Congress on its way to the Supreme Court
c. The principle that the branches of government should be co-equal and none too powerful
d. A dangerous idea that could potentially leave the people in charge of government

Federalism
a. A nasty cerebral infection caused by reading old founding-era documents
b. The formal worship of Alan Greenspan as a deity
c. The purposive division of political power between the central government and the States
d. The affliction that killed Alexander Hamilton

Penumbra
a. basically like an emanation, but different
b. an oversized umbrella used by Supreme Court justices to protect their spiffy robes
c. a super power that allows the Supreme Court to see in the dark
d. An astronomy term dealing with light and shadow that has absolutely no relation to law

Enamation
a. basically like a penumbra, but different
b. the glow that certain Justices get when they rhapsodically utter the phrase, “sweet mystery of life”
c. Cartoon parodies of the Supreme Court
d. A chemistry term dealing with isotopic gases that has absolutely no relation to law

Executive privilege
a. the President gets to go to the bathroom without asking the Supreme Court
b. what female interns learned about at the Clinton White House
c. the withholding of information by the executive on the ground that such revelations would hamper effective governmental operations and violate the separation of powers
d. the Supreme Court will not use foul language when they eviscerate executive authority

Congressional deference
a. Congress shall bow and say "Boom sha-ka-la-ka" when mentioning the Supreme Court
b. There's no deference for those bums
c. The quaint concept that the judiciary should give substantial weight to Congressional findings
d. The Congressional process of referring controversial issues to the Supreme Court

Originalist
a. A lobbyist for the orange growers association
b. Belonging to the founding generation
c. Principle that the Constitution should be interpreted according to its meaning at the time it was ratified
d. A bigoted, misogynistic, oppressively heterosexual Scalia zombie from Planet White Guy

Legislative Process
a. Working out the details of the Supreme Court’s edicts
b. Running for reelection to Congress
c. Enacting laws according to the will of the people
d. What we used to have before the Supreme Court seized power

Rule of Law
a. when smarmy British thespians possessing no talent whatsoever seize power in a coup
b. A principle of jurisprudence which states that for every legislative action, there is an opposite and wholly disproportionate reaction from the Supreme Court
c. Concept that we are ruled by codified laws which have been consented to, and not by the whim of individuals
d. Concept that we are better off ruled by the whim of brilliant judges, because there’s no telling what the ignorant masses will consent to

Living Constitution
a. Sequel to “Night of the Living Dead Constitution”
b. A Village People song done for Sesame Street featuring Snuffalufagus composing Constitutional amendments
c. Belief that the Constitution evolves over time according to judicial decisions which repudiates Article V
d. Belief that the Constitution is really just an emanation from the penumbra of the sweet mystery of life

Three branches of government
a. Federal courts, state courts, local courts
b. Animal, vegetable, mineral
c. Legislative, executive, judiciary
d. Judiciary, media, academy

Limited government
a. What we’re left with after the Supreme Court seizes power
b. A government with serious drawbacks that judges need to rectify
c. A government where substantial liberty is left to the people
d. A government without a supreme judiciary

Supremacy Clause
a. What the Supreme Court uses to shred the Constitution
b. Santa Claus’ direct supervisor in the Supreme Court building
c. The principle that the Constitution should take precedence over local and state law
d. The principle that the Supreme Court should take precedence over the Constitution

Checks and Balances
a. The toys that Supreme Court law clerks play with when not rewriting fundamental laws
b. The elaborate systems of code words, trap doors and pulleys that the Supreme Court uses to hide the fact that John Paul Stevens actually died several years ago
c. The practice of power among co-equal branches of government enabling each to resist encroachment
d. An educational diversity activity for the executive and legislative branches to keep them out of trouble while the Supreme Court runs the country

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 9, 2005 5:43 PM.

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