I remember back to one of my favorite classes in college, “American Government.” It was a weekly class that met on Wednesday nights for three hours at a time. My political science professor would use the first 15-30 minutes of each class to have a discussion about current events. We were free to discuss all the issues: abortion, religion, war, freedom of the press, etc. The professor would keep the discussion moving by asking questions. He always remained neutral. I never did figure out which way he leaned politically, which I admire about him to this day.
This is a pretty good time for students of all ages to be studying American Government – let’s hope that government teachers/professors take some time to teach about current government events happening in Montana and in Washington, D.C.
It’s also a good time to be a lawyer – especially if you specialize in constitutional law.
Here in Montana, several Republican members of the Montana House of Representatives recently decided to hold a meeting in the basement of a Helena, Montana, restaurant.
Back in 1998, a judge ruled that these meetings, called caucuses, were subject to the open-meeting rule contained in the Montana Constitution meaning the public had to be notified in advance of the meeting and the meeting needed to be open to the public.
According to an article in Lee Newspapers, “It’s not the first time lately that groups of lawmakers have held unannounced meetings during the Legislature, both at the Capitol and elsewhere” which should make us all just a little more skeptical of our elected officials.
So now maybe the court will get involved. According to the Great Falls Tribune:
The Associated Press and 21 other news organizations, including the Great Falls Tribune, asked Helena District Judge Kathy Seeley to find the House Republican Caucus in contempt of former District Judge Thomas Honzel’s 1998 ruling for a meeting held late in the day Nov. 13, in the basement of a Helena restaurant, without giving the public or the press notice of the meeting.
As for our government in Washington, D.C., there are many lessons to be learned. Even Saturday Night Live got into the act with a skit about how a bill becomes a law and Executive Orders:
One of the more interesting issues happened Friday when U.S. House Republicans filed a lawsuit against President Barack Obama.
According to the Associated Press, the lawsuit accuses “the Obama administration of exceeding its constitutional powers in carrying out President Barack Obama’s prized health care law, giving legal voice to conservatives who have long protested that he has abused his office’s authority.”
In a written statement, Speaker of the House John Boehner proclaimed, “The House has an obligation to stand up for the Constitution.”
According to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the Republicans are using “a TV lawyer” (George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley) with the cost to taxpayers at $500 per hour.
It will be interesting to watch this lawsuit because this is more about politics than anything.
Government teachers/professors won’t have to look too far to find some interesting topics – and that is a good thing.