Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Gorsuch and Sotomayor join forces to promote civics education

While Republicans and Democrats can’t seem to agree on anything lately, two Supreme Court justices reached across the bench on Sunday to condemn the incivility and partisanship in modern political debate.

Although they frequently disagree in the courtroom, Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Neil Gorsuch agreed that the lack of a strong civics curriculum in American public schools has contributed to a combative political climate and extreme partisanship.

The odd couple

While Gorsuch’s opponents call him an “enemy of equality,” Sotomayor has been accused of valuing “identity politics” over “merit.” Despite their ideological differences, the senior jurists came together during an interview with CBS News and agreed that healing the partisan divide in America should start in the classroom.

“We talked about this a lot,” Gorsuch said, looking to his colleague. “Only about 25 percent of Americans can name the three branches of government. A third of them can’t name any branch of government. And 10 percent believe that Judge Judy is one of our colleagues.”

“With no disrespect to Judge Judy, she is not a member of the Supreme Court,” Gorsuch added.

Sotomayor blamed the polarization in American politics on an education system that has prioritized science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs in recent years. In the process, educators have neglected basic civics courses that could teach students about elections, politics and government.

“It’s been well documented that the partisan discord in our country followed very closely on the heels of schools stopping to teach civic education,” Sotomayor said. “It wasn’t for an unimportant reason. There was a change of emphasis in the educational system in the country where they wanted to pay more attention to STEM.”

Government 101

Following the 2016 presidential election, when Donald Trump easily won the election despite losing the popular vote, there were widespread calls from liberals ignorant of the Constitution to abolish the Electoral College in favor of a popular vote. Democrats were suddenly demanding that 230 years of balanced federalism be eschewed in favor of a tyrannical (and blue) majority.

“I think very few people understand the Electoral College and how it works, that’s pretty much always been the case,” said Colin Moore, director of the Public Policy Center at the University of Hawaii.  

After President Trump appointed a second conservative justice to the Supreme Court in October, Democrats were suddenly interested in applying term limits to the high court. “The policy future of the country,” complained Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, “depends as much on the actuarial tables and the luck of the draw for presidents as it does on the larger trends in politics and society.”

Fielding questions from an overwhelmingly liberal audience last month, Democrat socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez offered a frightening solution to the conservative majority on the Supreme Court. “I think we take back the House,” she said. “We take back the Senate. We take back the presidency,” she continued, “and we pack the Supreme Court of the United States of America.”

Fielding questions from an overwhelmingly liberal audience last month, Democrat socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez offered a frightening solution to the conservative majority on the Supreme Court. “I think we take back the House,” she said. “We take back the Senate. We take back the presidency,” she continued, “and we pack the Supreme Court of the United States of America.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s harebrained scheme calls for arbitrarily raising the number of justices until a liberal majority can be obtained. There’s nothing in the Constitution which mandates the appointment of nine justices, argue proponents of the plan, and Congress could simply pass legislation to alter the political composition of the high court.

Logical disconnect

Of course, nothing’s to stop a Republican majority from upping the ante and further raising the number of judges to satisfy their political whims. Perhaps, as Sotomayor and Gorsuch contend, the lack of a rudimentary understanding of the division of government responsibilities among younger Americans like Ocasio-Cortez may explain the logical disconnect.

It’s hard to imagine that court-packing, Supreme Court term limits and the abolition of the Electoral College would serve to unify the electorate. In fact, these radical proposals are a byproduct of an education system that has gradually moved away from Government 101 in favor of a multiculturalist curriculum.

Not only have the public schools embraced the STEM model and neglected civics, but liberal academia now teaches its students that the Electoral College is an artifact of slavery and, indeed, that the very system of governance that it depends upon is steeped in racism and privilege. While the prevalence of this revisionist history may offer an even better explanation for the polarization of American society, Sotomayor and her conservative colleague are unlikely to agree on this matter.

No comments:

Post a Comment