The Oklahoma state legislature recently proposed a bill that would require high school students to pass the United States Citizenship prior to graduation.
As a general rule, we agree with this policy since everyone should have a basic understanding of how their government works and the rights and responsibilities inherent in citizenship. If more people took understood the Constitution, then maybe we wouldn’t be facing President Trump right now.
That being said, one would expect lawmakers to possess at least a basic understanding of the U.S. Constitution and the powers and structure of government. However, Oklahoma City’s Channel 4 news team recently spoke with several lawmakers regarding the bill and asked them some questions from the test. Their answers were, in some cases, disheartening.
For the first question, they asked the lawmakers what oath they took when becoming a U.S. citizen. They all correctly answered that immigrants seeking citizenship swear an oath to uphold the Constitution.
However, several of the lawmakers had trouble with the basic history of the document. When asked a question regarding when the Constitution was written, Rep. Mickey Dollens replied, “When was the Constitution written? 1876, 1786.” Rep. George Young said that he believed it was written in the same year as the Declaration of Independence, which would be 1776. Rep. Ed Cannady said it was written in 1789. The correct answer, for the record, is 1787.
All of them were correct regarding which war President Douglas McCarthur fought in, but the concept of rule of law tripped them up.
Rep. Young seemed to be confusing the concept of rule of law with idea of following the letter of the law.
‘That’s what, spirit of the law which is some unintended consequences that might come up and does the law really take in consideration of those. The rule of law is more specific, what’s written there and adhering to that particular thing.’
Rep. Cannady also struggled with this one, confusing the rule of law with the separation of powers co-equal branches of government.
‘It is that we have three branches and they create the law but then it is over seen and by the third branch and it is Supreme Court.’
In short, rule of law means that everyone from the president down to the the average person on the street must obey the laws of the land. Rep. Dollens was the only one who answered the question correctly when he stated, “Because you are president that doesn’t put you above anyone else.”
Representatives Dollens and Young voted for the law, but Cannady voted against it.
‘Now we’re saying even though you passed US government and you’re qualified to graduate because that is a requirement, but now we got to give a citizenship test that is used for immigrants.’
Interestingly enough, even Cannady agreed with Dollens’ amendment that would require law makers to pass this test as well.
‘You’re not qualified to graduate, would you say we’re not qualified to legislate.’
Personally speaking, we wouldn’t mind seeing the bill applied to the United States Congress and president as well. We’d be very interested in knowing whether or not Trump could actually pass this test.
Featured image via Getty Images.