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We reformatted the seminar, combining the two sessions into one. The content is the same. Only the format has changed. We also updated slides to reflect changes in the Supreme Court. We will upload the new version soon.

INTRODUCTION - SESSION I

Visit CivicsForGrownups.org - a website to support this seminar

The site presents

    The entire slideshow for Session I and II with speaker’s notes

    The US Constitution and its Amendments

    Links to other sites

    Find your Representatives

    ▪    Federal

    ▪    State

    ▪    County

    ▪    Local

    End Gerrymandering in PA (we will discuss Gerrymandering in Session II)

    Learn about Civics through online games

 

Contact us at all.of.us@CivicsForGrownups.org

 

Why we are offering these sessions

    Some of us had a Civics class in school, but...

    ▪    Some topics may not have been covered

    ▪    We forgot some things that were covered

    ▪    Some things are not part of the ‘written’ system of government
    Partisanship is at an all time high and, in our opinion, is damaging our nation
    We’ve talked to many people who said they don’t understand important things...

    ▪    Why we have an Electoral College and how it’s selected

    ▪    Why voting districts are laid out as they are

    ▪    How/where to register to vote

    ▪    How/where to vote in local, state and national elections

Each of us has our own political biases and opinions. In this seminar, however, those leanings should be irrelevant. The seminar is not a forum to debate our positions. It’s an overview of US Democracy and our role as citizens in that Democracy. If you detect a bias in what we present, please let us know so that we can eliminate it.

 

It is our hope that, by offering this seminar, we can contribute to a community that understands how our government is supposed to work, recognizes areas where government works differently than designed, and feels vested in taking the active role that is necessary for us to ‘own our government’ in the way we should.

 

This is Session I of a 2-part series. This session is an overview with more details in Session II. We and other organizations will be offering still more seminars that go into greater depth than these two sessions if you express interest.

 

RIGHTS ARE LIKE MUSCLES - IF YOU DON’T EXERCISE THEM, THEY VANISH.

CIVIC RESPONSIBILITIES

 

Abide by Laws

    Know the laws
    Know responsibilities
    Know proper methods to protest and change laws

 

Pay taxes

    Only source of government funding
    Know how to defer taxes legally

 

Jury Duty
    Civic responsibility if called

    Not just people who register to vote (refusing to register does not exempt you)
    Selected from drivers’ license registry

 

Be an Informed Voter

    Learn about Issues

    Learn about Candidates
        Investigate all candidates
        Look at sample ballot before voting

    It’s not enough to watch news, internet or FB

        Lots of fake news

        Deliberate lies

        Distortions

        Shoddy, un-researched, error filled reporting

        Deliberately misleading -effort to fool readers

        Satire

    Tip-offs that the news is questionable
        Anonymous author

        Excessive exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!!!!
        CAPITAL LETTERS

        Misspellings (mispelings?)
        Says, “This is not a Hoax!”
        Links or phone numbers that are dead or contradict claims

    Be Smart

        Consider the source

        Read beyond the headline

        Check the author

        Investigate supporting documents

        Check the date

        Is it satire - a joke - The Onion

        Check your own biases

        Consult experts

VOTING PROCESS - I

 

We elect Federal, State, & Local representatives to represent us at all three levels.
If we don’t vote, others choose our representatives and the issues they champion.
Don’t vote? Don’t complain.

 

The lowest turnout is for local elections - the elections that have the most impact on our daily lives.

 

You are eligible to vote if you are a US Citizen who is age 18 or older... and register.

 

When you register, you have to choose a party.

Choose one that aligns with your values and/or one that lets you vote in primary elections. Only Democrats and Republicans vote in primaries in PA.

 

You can register online, by mail, at a photo license center, at a registration drive.

https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/Pages/VoterRegistrationApplication.aspx

 

http://www.dos.pa.gov/VotingElections/Voters/Documents/Votespa/OnlineVoterRegFormBlank.pdf 

 

Know how to reach your county election office. That office can help you register, tell you where your polling station is, provide sample ballots, absentee ballots...

Berks

633 Court St.

Reading

610-478-6490    

 

Lancaster

150 N Queen St.

Lancaster

717-299-8293    

 

Lebanon

400 S 8th St.

Lebanon

717-228-4428

 

Lehigh

17 S 7th St.

Allentown

610-782-3194    

 

Montgomery

439 Swede St.

Norristown

610-278-3280    

 

Schuylkill

420 N Centre St.

Pottsville

570-628-1467

    

York

28 E Market St.

York

717-771-9604    

 

You can also find your polling station at https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/Pages/PollingPlaceInfo.aspx 

 

You must show ID the first time you vote at a polling station. If there is difficulty with your registration, the polling station can accept a provisional ballot from you. If you will be away from home on Election Day, you can get an absentee ballot. If you want to vote for someone who is not on the ballot, you can write in a candidate to vote for him/her.

 

VOTING PROCESS

 

Rules and Regulations

You can request assistance in the voting booth if you need it.

You may not take photos inside of the booth.

You should not make calls inside of the booth

 

You will be allowed to vote if you are in line by 8 PM.

 

Candidates and their representatives must stay outside of the polling station, at least 10 feet from the door. No one may try to influence you inside of the polling station. No campaign materials are allowed inside of the polling station.

 

Voter suppression and intimidation

Some voters encounter barriers to registration and voting - Voter suppression is a strategy to influence the outcome of an election by discouraging or preventing people from voting. The tactics of voter suppression range from minor changes to make voting less convenient, to physically intimidating prospective voters - both of which are illegal.
Voter suppression and intimidation most frequently target minorities and people who have lower income.

 

Fraud and Inaccuracies

    Types

False identities - infrequent and unlikely

Compromised technology - infrequent and unlikely (more likely than before)

Gerrymandering - frequent and common - will be covered in Session II

 

Getting informed

BEFORE ELECTION DAY

Get a list of candidates from your county election office

Do some research

Get sample ballots for your precinct from your county election office

If an online sample ballot is not accessible, call or visit the office to get one

Know how you plan to vote before you walk in

 

Make a plan for how you will include voting on election day.

How will it fit into your workday, the schedule for picking up kids, etc.

How will you get there? Car, bus, train, taxi? How long will it take?

Fill in the sample ballots for your precinct from your county election office. 

Know how you plan to vote before you go.

Go do it.

 

Vote in EVERY election - the local elections are where we choose people who will influence our daily lives and incubate tomorrow’s state and national leaders.

THE CONSTITUTION

 

History 

    The Constitution went into effect in 1791.

    It is the supreme law of the land.

    Written more than 220 years ago, still outlines our system of government.

    The Constitution allows the Federal government to bind states into a nation.

 

Federalism 

The Constitution establishes a government based on Federalism, where two or more entities share control over the same geographic region. 

 

Federal, State, County, and Local governments operate in overlapping territories, but each address different issues. It is a ladder of power, with the most wide-reaching power at the top with the Federal government. It is a set of sieves for issues - sift out large issues for the Federal, more regional issues for the State, and smaller issues that affect a small area for Local action.

 

If you need help with a local issue, go to your local offices. Similarly, if you need to address an issue that is state-wide, or national, go to your state or national representatives for help.

 

Division of Power in the Federal Government

    Three Branches: Legislative, Executive, Judicial

    Checks and Balances

        The Constitution gives certain powers to each branch, not to all branches

        Avoids too much power in one place

        Each branch checks the others

 

Amendment Process

    Allows for changes in Constitution making it a ‘living document’

        Requires 2/3 of each House of Congress & a majority of state legislators

        the current majority requires 38 state legislatures to adopt a change    

    First ten amendments are called the Bill of Rights (included immediately - 1791)

    Important for anti-federalists who wanted their rights written into the constitution

        3rd thru 15th: Civil rights (over about 70 years: 1791 - 1870)

        21st and 18th: Prohibition (14 years apart: 1919 to 1933)

        19th: Women’s right to vote (1920)

        25th: Presidential Succession - (1967 after the Kennedy assassination)

        26th: 18-yr-old vote (1971 because of Viet Nam - draft age was 18)

    What we need to do…

        Become familiar with the Constitution and its Amendments

        Understand Federalism

        Know what it takes to amend the Constitution

LEGISLATIVE BRANCH

The Legislative Branch

    Two “Houses” in Congress

        House of Representatives (lower house)

        ▪    Representation Based on Population

        ▪    435 Representatives

        Senate (upper house)

        ▪    Equal Representation

        ▪    50 Senators - 2 per State

    Qualifications to be a Member

        House of Representatives (lower house)

        ▪    25 years old

        ▪    Citizen 7 years

        ▪    Reside in state they represent

        Senate (upper house)

        ▪    30 years old

        ▪    Citizen 9 years

        ▪    Reside in state they represent

    Terms of Office

        House of Representatives (lower house)

        ▪    2 years

        ▪    unlimited re-election

        Senate (upper house)

        ▪    6 years

        ▪    unlimited re-election

        ▪    1/3 of the Senate is re-elected every 2 years

    Legislator’s Job Description

        Law Maker - How a Bill Becomes a Law
            Introduced in Committee in the House or Senate

            Presented/Debated on the House or Senate Floor
            Goes to other house to repeat the process

            (must be identical in both houses)
            Presented to President for signature or veto

            Congress can override veto with 2/3 majority in both houses

        Committee Member - Standing Committees for specific issues
        Representative & Servant of Constituents
        Politician - more about this in Session II

 

Your address determines who is your representative. 

 

Find Federal and State Representatives at  http://act.commoncause.org/site/PageServer?pagename=sunlight_advocacy_list_page.

 

Find County officials at
 http://www.votespa.com/en-us/voting-and-elections/be-prepared/Pages/County-Contact-Information.aspx.

 

Find Township/Municipality officials at https://www.civicsforgrownups.org/copy-of-legislators-by-zip-4.

 

 

JUDICIAL BRANCH

 

Judiciary Act of 1789 

    Established Federal Courts
    Divided Country into Circuits
        we now have more circuits than we did because we have more states

    Provided for Chief Justice and five Associate Justices for Supreme Court         

We now have a Chief and 8 Associate Justices (since 1869)

Structure - a hierarchy

    Under the Supreme Court are 

        Appellate Courts that hear appeals from 

            Lower Courts

US Supreme Court Justices
    Appointed by the President
    Approved by the Senate
    Appointed for life

PA judicial system mirrors the federal structure - a hierarch with over 1000 judges

ALL OF THEM ARE ELECTED, NOT APPOINTED - WE GET TO CHOOSE THEM

 

What do we need to do?

Unless you prefer to have someone else choose the judges who make decisions about your local issues and our state issues, vote in all elections - the judges are chosen in the ‘small’ elections that most everyone ignores. Is it important? YES!

 

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

Branch of government responsible for enforcing laws

 

President of the United States (POTUS)

    Qualifications stated in the Constitution
        Natural-born citizen
        At least 35 years old
        Resided in USA for 14 years

    Unwritten Qualifications

    Term Limit - 22nd AMENDMENT
        Four-year Term

        Two-term Limit
        Ten-year limit

Vice-President

    Preside over Senate
    Decide question of Presidential disability
    Acting President as needed
    Hand picked to balance ticket

Cabinet: advisors to the President - each confirmed by a specific Senate Committee

 

ELECTORAL COLLEGE

 

We do not directly elect our President

    We choose representatives who become the Electoral College
    This approach was written right into the Constitution: Article II Section I Clause 3
Current: There are 538 Electors

    This number equals the number of Senators and House Representatives

    100 Senators and 435 Representatives (plus 3 for DC)

 

A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win the Presidency (since 1964)

    State’s electors equal number of Members in US Congress
    Each political party nominates Electors who

        who pledge to vote for the party’s candidate
        may not be Members of Congress or federal government employees

    Popular vote decides which nominees become Electors
    Electors meet in State capitals to vote
        President
        Vice President
    Electors ALMOST always vote for the candidate to whom they pledged
    Joint session of Congress counts & confirms votes
    If no candidate gets 270 votes
    House of Representatives chooses Adams (1824)

Number of electors is proportional to the state’s population measured every 10 years

Disadvantages 

    Can give individual votes unequal weight
        CA population is 39M people - 55 electors. RI population is 1M - 4 electors         For equal clout, CA would have to have 156 electors - 3 times as many

    Works poorly when there is a very small margin of victory within individual state
    Tends to favor a two-party system
    Candidates who receive more popular votes can lose the election

 

It’s not a perfect system, but it’s the one we have right now

 

CONCLUSION

 

It is our hope that, by attending this seminar, you’ve gained better understanding of how our government is supposed to work, know more about the areas where government works differently than designed, and feel vested in taking the active role that’s needed for us to ‘own our government’ in the way we should.

 

Please let us know if there is some place where we should offer this two-part seminar.

 

Please let us know if you need more information about any of these topics or would like to attend seminars that give more details about these topics or other topics - we are providing a handout to help you get that information back to us. 

 

We will notify you when other seminars are available.

Feel free to send questions to us at all.of.us@CivicsForGrownups.org.

 

Remember...

RIGHTS ARE LIKE MUSCLES - IF YOU DON’T EXERCISE THEM, THEY VANISH.

 

INTRODUCTION - SESSION II

 

Location of restrooms
Food (if there is any)

 

Remember 

CivicsForGrownups.org - a website to support this seminar

Contact us at all.of.us@CivicsForGrownups.org

 

Each of us has our own political biases and opinions. In this seminar, however, those leanings should be irrelevant. The seminar is not a forum to debate our positions. 

 

This is Session II of a 2-part series. This session presents details about topics we touched upon in Session I. 

 

We and other organizations will be offering still more seminars that go into greater depth than these two sessions if you express interest.

REVIEW - CIVIC RESPONSIBILITIES

 

In the last session, we discussed our responsibilities as citizens - the things we have to do to make Democracy work:

    

Serve on Juries

Know and follow the law - or change it 

Pay taxes

Be an Informed Voter

    Learn about Issues and Candidates

    Recognize fake or manipulative news

    Think critically about the information you gather

 

 

REVIEW - VOTING PROCESS

 

In the last session, we reviewed why we vote, how we vote, who is eligible, and resources to help you know where to vote and to learn about candidates.

 

We elect Federal, State, & Local representatives.
If we don’t vote, others choose our representatives and the issues they champion.

US Citizens age 18 or older who register are eligible.

 

You can register online, by mail, at a photo license center, at a registration drive.

https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/Pages/VoterRegistrationApplication.aspx

 

http://www.dos.pa.gov/VotingElections/Voters/Documents/Votespa/OnlineVoterRegFormBlank.pdf 

 

Your county election office can help you register, tell you where your polling station is, provide sample ballots, absentee ballots...

 

We encouraged you to get a sample ballot and decide who you will vote for BEFORE election day. We urged you to vote in EVERY election - the local elections are where we choose people who will influence our daily lives and incubate tomorrow’s state and national leaders

 

Vote in EVERY election - the local elections are where we choose people who will influence our daily lives and incubate tomorrow’s state and national leaders.

 

REVIEW - THE CONSTITUTION

 

In the last session we discussed that the Constitution went into effect in 1791.

    It is the supreme law of the land.

    It establishes a government based on Federalism

        where two or more entities share control over the same geographic region. 

    It divides Power in the Federal Government

        Three Branches - Legislative, Executive, Judicial 

        Checks and Balances

            Some powers to each branch, not to all branches

            Avoids too much power in one place

            Each branch checks the others

    It can be changed (amended) 

        2/3 of each House of Congress & a majority of state legislators

        the current majority requires 38 state legislatures to adopt a change    

    The 1st 10 amendments are called the Bill of Rights

    

 

REVIEW - LEGISLATIVE BRANCH

In the last session, we discussed that the the Legislative Branch consists of 2“Houses”

        House of Representatives (lower house) - Based on Population

        Senate (upper house) - 2 per State

    

We discussed Qualifications, Terms of Office, and that

Your address determines who is your representative. 

 

Find Federal and State Representatives at http://act.commoncause.org/site/PageServer?pagename=sunlight_advocacy_list_page. 

 

Find County officials at http://www.votespa.com/en-us/voting-and-elections/be-prepared/Pages/County-Contact-Information.aspx. 

 

Find Township/Municipality officials at https://www.civicsforgrownups.org/copy-of-legislators-by-zip-4.

 

We touched on Legislator’s Job Descriptions

    Law Maker, Committee Member, Representative & Servant of Constituents
        

We promised to give you more information about 

    Salary and Benefits

    Powers

    Who are the leaders of the House and Senate

    Which Committees have the most influence

    How people become Representatives and Senators and

    what it means that your Legislators are also Politicians 

 

LEGISLATIVE BRANCH - SALARY & BENEFITS - NEW MATERIAL 

Representatives and Senators earn $174,000 per year
    Free Franking (postage)
    License Tags
    American Flags
    Packages wrapped free for mailing
    Generous Pension Plan    
    Expense Accounts for

        Travel
        Equipment & Office Leasing
        Communications

        Stationery

    Benefits/Discounts/Services

        Special Health Care Plan          

        Health Club

        Legal Advice                    

        Library Services

        Discounts in Stationery Store        

        Free Parking

        Reduced Barber/Beauty Shop Rates     

        Use of Recording & TV Studios

        Federal Retirement Plan 

        (not Social Security)

    

Expressed Powers

    Tax                        

    Borrow money

    Regulate trade                

    Coin money
    Establish bankruptcy codes        

    Determine naturalization procedures
    Postal power                    

    Grant copyrights and patents
    Power over territories            

    Judicial powers
    War powers

 

What we need to do…

 

        Know which Congressional District you live in

            Know who represents the district in Congress    

            Have the Representative’s contact info (phone, address, email)

        Know who your state Senators are

            Have the Senators’ contact info (phone, address, email)

        Vote in ALL elections

        Contact your Representative and Senators 

            to ask questions 

            to express concerns

 

LEGISLATIVE BRANCH - LEADERS IN THE HOUSE/SENATE

Leaders in the House

    Speaker of the House - Paul Ryan

        Leader of Majority Party

        Only votes in a tie

        Appoints temporary speaker to debate

        3rd in succession for presidency

        Earns more than others - $223,500

    

Leaders in the Senate

    President of the Senate - VP Mike Pence

        Presides over debates and votes

        Only votes in a tie

        2nd in line for presidency

        Earns $227,300

    President Pro Tempore - Warren Hatch

        Serves in the absence of VP

        Usually member of majority party    

        Earns $193,400

 

Leaders in the House and Senate

    Floor Leaders

        Legislative strategists

        Carry out goals of party

        Majority and Minority Leader

        $193,400

    House Floor Leaders

        Kevin McCarthy - R

        Nancy Pelosi - D

    Senate Floor Leaders

        Mitch McConnell - R

        Chuck Schumer - D

    

LEGISLATIVE BRANCH - COMMITTEES

Standing Committees
    Permanent groups for specific topics
    Draft, debate & advance bills
    Bills must be identical & pass both houses
    President signs or vetoes
    Congress can override vetoes

 

House Committees    

    Appropriations    Judiciary

    Armed Services    Merchant Marine & Fisheries

    Banking, Finance & Urban Affairs    Post Office & Civil Service

    Budget    Public Works & Transportation

    District of Columbia    Rules

    Education & Labor    Science, Space & Technology

    Energy & Commerce    Small Business

    Foreign Affairs    Standards for Official Conduct

    Government Operations    Veterans Affairs

    House Administration    Ways & Means

 

Senate Committees

    Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry    

    Finance

    Appropriations    

    Foreign Relations

    Armed Services    

    Governmental Affairs

    Banking, Finance & Urban Affairs    

    Judiciary

    Budget    

    Labor & Human Resources

    Commerce, Science & Transportation    

    Rules & Administration

    Energy & Natural Resources    

    Small Business

    Environment & Public Works    

    Veterans Affairs

 

Joint Committees -

    Economic Committee,

    The Library, Printing,

    Taxation

LEGISLATIVE BRANCH - PATHWAY TO THE LEGISLATURE

The Constitution outlined a system in which citizens would serve one or two terms and go home, but legislators are now often lifetime, career politicians. This change introduces new elements to the pathway to a legislative seat: power games, Gerrymandering, and propaganda.

 

POWER GAMES 

Hedrick Smith is a Pulitzer Prize Winner, former Washington Bureau Chief of the New York Times, and author of The Power Game.

 

Smith describes games that politicians play to achieve and keep their legislative seats:

 

    Money Game - continuously raise money - dial for dollars daily - there is never enough

    Visibility Game - stay in the public eye, take photo opportunities, interviews

    Constant Campaigning - the next election is 4 or 6 years from the one that just ended

    Favors for the Home Folks - do things that make constituents feel grateful

    Inside Game - coalition politics

    Opposition Game - make someone else a villain - especially used when the Speaker of the House and President are from different parties

 

POWER GAMES - NON-ELECTED POWER

    Political Action Committees

    - differ from lobbyists in that PACs can give money directly to campaigns - lobbyists use money to present arguments to influence legislators
    Staff - each legislator has a large staff, including advisors, who we do not elect
    Spouses - legislators’ spouses have the legislators’ ears

 

 

What we need to do…

 

Recognize when our legislators are being politicians who are using power games to sway our opinions.

GERRYMANDERING

Gerrymandering is redistricting gone bad, a corruption of a process to keep equal numbers of voters in a state’s voting districts.

GERRYMANDERING - PURPOSE OF VOTING DISTRICTS

PA has three types of voting districts - each district directly elects one legislator

US House of Representatives - 18 districts - 18 Representatives

PA House of Representatives - 203 districts - 203 Representatives

PA Senate - 50 districts - 50 Senators

Districts influence the Electoral College and the Presidential election

 

GERRYMANDERING - WHY/HOW REDISTRICTING IS DONE

Population shifts over time. The US Census, done every 10 years tracks those changes.

After the Census, we redraw the boundaries of the districts so that they contain equal numbers of voters. Redistricting is supposed to create districts that do not divide towns, townships, school districts unless it is unavoidable.

 

PA’s Constitution establishes how redistricting is done:

a 5-person Commission

    US Congress recommends candidates

    PA State House & Senate appoint 4 members - 2 Republicans & 2 Democrats

    Those 4 people OR the PA Supreme Court picks 5th member

The people being elected (US House of Representatives and both State Houses) choose who draws the lines - therefore, the people being elected influence elections.

 

GERRYMANDERING - REDISTRICTING FOR POLITICAL ADVANTAGE

When a Commission draws lines to create a political advantage or disadvantage, the redistricting is Gerrymandering. This process got its name in 1812 - MA Governor Elbridge Gerry signed a district plan that favored Republicans; outraged Federalists gave the name “Gerrymandering” to the corrupt redistricting process.

 

GERRYMANDERING - WHY IS IT A PROBLEM

Protects favored incumbents

    moves lines to support them

    inhibits entry of new candidates

    limits our choices at the polls

Punishes incumbents who push back on the party

    moves lines to oust them

    encourages voting with the party    

    reduces importance of constituent priorities

Fosters partisan gridlock

The problem: politicians choose their voters - voters no longer choose their politicians.

 

GERRYMANDERING - IS IT A PROBLEM IN PA/HOW TO FIX IT

In 2010, the redistricting commission redrew lines that maintained equal populations in districts, but ignored the requirements to make districts compact and contiguous, and allowed lines to cut through towns, townships, school districts... Berks County has four districts. Their boundaries meander, bisect incorporated entities. Berks’ districts extend into SEVEN other counties.

 

In 2010, Project RedMap - a PAC, injected money into state elections, influenced who chose the redistricting commission, and helped to make our districts political tools. For 2020, we have both Project Redmap 2020 and Advantage 2020 waiting to do the same.

 

GERRYMANDERING - AMEND THE PA CONSTITUTION?

Senate Bill 22 and House Bill 722, if passed, would amend the Constitution

to create an 11-person Commission

    US Congress does not recommend candidates

    4 members from Democrats, 4 m

    members from Republicans    

    3 members from other parties

majority of 7 to pass a redistricting plan

 

The bills were introduced early in 2017.

To change redistricting process, they must be law before 2020.

By May, 86 legislators supported SB22.

    Some legislators like it as is.

    Some legislators believe the process is still to politicized.

    Some legislators believe that Gerrymandering is NOT a problem in PA.

A recent thrust is raising this issue to the US Supreme Court

 

What we need to do…

 

Look at the changes to the voting district boundaries.

Hold our state legislators accountable to have a fair redistricting approach.

Actively support legislators’ efforts to ensure fair redistricting.

PROPAGANDA

A message designed to persuade its intended audience to think and behave in a certain manner - used in advertising and politics

 

Beware of messages that use propaganda to subconsciously sway your opinion 

Types of Propaganda
    Plain Folks  - Vote for me... I’m just like you...
    Bandwagon - Everyone else is doing this... You should too...
    Glittering Generalities - Broad, vague generalities - Sound good, say nothing
    Transfer - Use of Patriotic Icons/Symbols - Take on meaning by association
    Name Calling - Bash your opponent - Say nothing about yourself
    Testimonial  - Famous, respected person’s endorsement - merit by association
    Card Stacking - Tell only one side of the story - Heavy use of statistics

REVIEW - JUDICIAL BRANCH

Judiciary Act of 1789 Established Federal Courts

Divided Country into Circuits  - more circuits now because we have more states

Provided for Chief Justice and five Associate Justices for Supreme Court - 9 since 1869

The courts are a Hierarchy with the Supreme Court at the top

PA’s court system mirrors the federal system - over 1000 PA judges - ALL ELECTED

Supreme Court (15), Commonwealth Court (9), Court of Common Pleas (439): 10-yr

Municipal - Philadelphia and Pittsburgh (517) and Magisterial Courts (39): 6-yr

 

JUDICIAL BRANCH - JURISDICTION - NEW MATERIAL

Foreign governments            

Maritime law
Bankruptcy                    

Two or more state governments
Citizens of different states            

US laws and treaties
Interpretation of the Constitution

 

 

JUDICIAL BRANCH - FUNCTIONS

Court of Law - Hear cases within Federal Jurisdiction - Not like a TV trial court 

    Justices read petitions previewed by their clerks 

        usually cases appealed after local state or federal court

        Justices choose which cased to hear

 

Conflict of law: two or more courts reach different conclusions about an issue of federal or constitutional law

Important Issues 

Justices' Interests: issues in their favorite areas of law

Lower Courts Disregard past Supreme Court decisions:

    hear the case to correct the lower court,

    simply overrule the case without comment

Make Policy - examples: Brown (desegregation), Roe v Wade (abortion)

Interpret the Constitution - rulings based on Justices’ interpretation of the Constitution.

Check actions of Legislative and Executive Branches

    Rules on constitutionality of laws passed by legislative branch

    In US v Nixon, the court limited Presidential executive privilege

 

JUDICIAL BRANCH - JUSTICES - NEW MATERIAL

Supreme Court Justices - Appointed by President - Approved by Senate - Appointed for life

 

John G Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice, 2005, age 62    

Anthony Kennedy, 1987, age 80
Clarence Thomas, 1991, age 68                

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 1993, age 83
Stephen Breyer, 1994, age 78                

Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr., 2005, age 66
Sonia Sotomayor, 2009, age 62                

Elena Kagan, 2010, age 56

Neil Gorsuch, 2017, age 50

Ideology

Conservative: Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch
Centrist: Kennedy
Liberal: Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan

REVIEW - EXECUTIVE BRANCH

Branch of government responsible for enforcing laws
Appoints heads of Federal agencies and the Cabinet

 

POTUS     Chief of State, Chief Administrator,  Chief Diplomat, Legislator, Citizen, Commander in Chief of Armed Services, Two-term/Ten-year limit

VP            President of Senate, Next in line for the Presidency 

CABINET  Advisors to the President

 

EXECUTIVE BRANCH - POTUS’ COMPENSATION/STAFF - NEW MATERIAL

$400,000/Yr. Salary                

$50,000/Yr. Expense Account

Travel Expense Account            

$201,700/Yr. Lifetime Pension

White House (132 rooms)            

Camp David

Cars/boats/planes/helicopters         

Secret Service

34 staff for domestic service        

Up to 100 assistants

Temporary consultants & experts

 

EXECUTIVE BRANCH - VP JOB/COMPENSATION 

Preside over the Senate            

Decide presidential disability
Serve as acting president            

Heartbeat away from being the POTUS
Handpicked to balance ticket        

$230,700 annual salary

 

EXECUTIVE BRANCH - CABINET - NEW MATERIAL VI

Secretary of State (1789)                

Secretary of the Treasury (1789)
Secretary of Defense (1947            

Attorney General (1789)

Secretary of the Interior (1849)            

Secretary of Agriculture (1889)
Secretary of Commerce (1903)            

Secretary of Labor (1913)
Secretary of Health & Human Services (1953)    

Secretary of Energy (1977) 

Secretary of Transportation (1967)         

Secretary of Education (1979) 

Secretary of Veterans Affairs (1989)       

Secretary of Homeland Security (2001)

Secretary of Housing & Urban Development (1965)

 

EXECUTIVE BRANCH - PATH TO PRESIDENCY - NEW MATERIAL VII, VIII, & IX

Form Exploratory Committee        

Declare Candidacy
Fundraise, Campaign, Debate        

Win Primary Election
Fundraise, Campaign, Debate

Get National Committee Nomination
Republican or Democratic Convention - two parties powerful enough to choose a ‘best candidate’ so as not to divide the party and allow the other party to win.

Fundraise, Campaign, Debate

Win General Election
    Popular Vote

    Electoral College
Inauguration

 

REVIEW - ELECTORAL COLLEGE

Concern over direct popular vote for President

    fewer people were educated
    ravel & communication limited access

Group of well-informed, respected representatives of the people to choose President

    the number of Electors was smaller in 1791 - we now have 538 Electors
    equals the number of members of Congress
    majority of 270 Electoral votes win the Presidency

 

ELECTORAL COLLEGE - CHOOSING ELECTORS

The number of Electors from each state equals the number of Members of Congress
Each political party nominates Electors who pledge to vote for the party’s candidate
Electors may not be Members of Congress or employees of the federal government

 

ELECTORAL COLLEGE - HOW IT WORKS

Parties nominate their Electors
Popular vote decides which nominees become Electors
Electors meet in State capitals to vote for the candidate they pledged
Joint session of Congress counts & confirms votes
If no candidate gets 270 votes, House of Representatives chooses - Adams (1824)

 

ELECTORAL COLLEGE - ELECTORS PER STATE

The number of electors is proportional to the state’s population

Census every 10 years determines number of congressional representatives and electors

48 States are winner-take all, Maine and Nebraska can split their electoral votes: 2 to state winner, remainder to district winners.

PA has 20 now (equal to 18 Reps plus 2 Senators), likely to lose one after next census

 

ELECTORAL COLLEGE - ADVANTAGES/DISADVANTAGES - VI, VII, & VIII

Protects small & remote states
    Equalizes importance of low & high population centers
    Campaigns address more regions to get a majority of votes
Addresses broader base of Americans
Reduces potential for corruption - 51 separate elections, not just one

Recounts are easier in close elections

 

Can give individual votes unequal weight
    CA population -  39M, 55 electors - 709 thousand votes per elector
    RI population - 1M, 4 electors - 250 thousand votes per elector
    To achieve equally weighted individual vote, CA would need 156 electors
    PA would need 51 electors to have the same individual clout as RI
Works poorly when there is a very small margin of victory within individual state
Tends to favor a two-party system
Candidates who receive more popular votes can lose the election    

    The Electoral College has chosen differently than the populace four times:
    1876 - Hayes        1888 - Harrison    2000 - G W Bush    2016 - Trump

 

To alter the Electoral College requires a Constitutional Amendment.

CONCLUSION

We hope you’ve gained better understanding of how our government is supposed to work, know more about the areas where government works differently than designed, and feel vested in taking the active role that’s needed for us to ‘own our government’ in the way we should.

 

Please let us know if there is some place where we should offer this two-part seminar.

 

Please let us know if you need more information about any of these topics or would like to attend seminars that give more details about these topics or other topics - we are providing a handout to help you get that information back to us. 

 

We will notify you when other seminars are available.

Feel free to send questions to us at all.of.us@CivicsForGrownups.org.