School Competition Restores Hope
Forgive the schmaltz, but every year around this time, my hope for our nation is renewed. I may despair that
The competition is the culmination of an amazing program by the nonprofit
The competition is so stiff that the students routinely demonstrate a better grasp of how our government operates -- its history, philosophical underpinnings, elasticity and modern challenges -- than college government majors or law school graduates.
These young people have spent months in their off hours reading Alexis de Tocqueville, Montesquieu,
If only the tea baggers who like to declare their support for upholding the Constitution had a tenth of these students' understanding of what the Constitution actually says and means, they might be worth listening to.
One day's topic for the hearings I judged was
The students, sometimes three, sometimes as many as six, sit across from a panel of three judges (who often include state supreme court justices, federal court judges, law professors and bar presidents.) The students start with prepared remarks, then the questions from the judges start flying.
I asked state teams whether the
Many teams, without benefit of notes, instantly cited Clinton vs.
Teams knew about the modern controversy over signing statements and grappled with whether this was a form of legislating through the back door. Some thought the president's only constitutional option was to veto a bill he believed trenched on his executive authority. Others were not bothered by a president's declaration of opinion that parts of a bill were unenforceable, since signing statements have no force of law. Either way, most were able to rationally defend their views.
The students from
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(c) 2010 Robyn Blumner