Sunday, August 2, 2009

Judge Souter and Civics Knowledge

Retired U.S. Supreme Court justice David Souter warned that a lack of civics knowledge poses a threat. Versions of the story all over the Net. An AP version here.

Polls show two-thirds of Americans can't name all three branches of government. "This is something to worry about," Souter said "There is a danger to judicial independence when people have no understanding of how the judiciary fits into the constitutional scheme."

He's absolutely right, of course. The stability of a democratic government relies in part on a reservoir of good will by the public. When government screws up (which is often), it draws down the reservoir. When things go well, it gets replenished. But it's important people understand why the courts can make certain decisions, even if they don't agree with them politically or ideologically. Understanding the role of the courts is vital.

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