With all the recent talk about Obamacare and the role of the Supreme Court, it's useful to stop and remember just how little Americans know about the judicial body that will control their access to affordable health care.
Who is the Chief Justice of the United States?
Don't know: 53%
John Roberts: 28%
Thurgood Marshall: 8%
John Paul Stevens: 6%
Harry Reid: 4%
It's pretty sad that 53% of the country can't identify the leader of one of our three branches of government. Even worse, it was a multiple-choice question. Even worse-er, a bunch of people thought the chief justice was Thurgood Marshall, who retired 20 years ago. I guess we should just be happy most respondents could tie their own shoes.
This poll really puts into perspective just how staggeringly uninformed Americans are when it comes to basic issues of government. Which, come to think of it, might explain the temporary popularity of Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Rick Perry last fall.
Well, good thing we don't let all these people do anything important. Like, you know, pick the President of the United States. That would be a total disaster — Oh, right…
Photo by Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Group/Getty Images
Tags: Harry Reid, Health Care, John Paul Stevens, John Roberts, Judiciary, Laws, Polls, Supreme Court
Goddamnit! As if I needed another reason to hate the Westboro Baptist Church, now I have to go and be happy that they won a case protecting their Constitutional right to be obnoxious, hate-filled, media-whoring trolls? Why do you make me support you, Fred Phelps?! Why?!?!
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the First Amendment protects fundamentalist church members who mount attention-getting, anti-gay protests outside military funerals.
The court voted 8-1 in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan. The decision upheld an appeals court ruling that threw out a $5 million judgment to the father of a dead Marine who sued church members after they picketed his son's funeral…
"What Westboro said, in the whole context of how and where it chose to say it, is entitled to 'special protection' under the First Amendment," [Chief Justice John] Roberts wrote, "and that protection cannot be overcome by a jury finding that the picketing was outrageous."
Ugh! It could have gone worse. They could have lost. I think that being happy they won is better than being sad they lost. In a weird way. Then I'd probably feel compelled to defend them. Then people who feel the same way as me — but are less lazy — would probably feel compelled to go out and protest the Phelps' lost right to protest. And that would get very confusing.
It would be so much nicer to have one set of rules for people we like and another set for people we hate.
I think I'm actually starting to see the appeal of the Tea Party movement.
Tags: Bill of Rights, Christianity, Constitution, Fred Phelps, John Roberts, Military, Protesters, Religion, Westboro Baptist Church
Good day, patriots! 'Tis I, Sara Benincasa, your Comedy Central Indecision Delegate, here to further enlighten you with important facts about the fabulous government of our great nation. Today we turn our insightful gaze on the Supreme Court. I'm awash in that legendary post-midterm elections glow, as are you. But we must focus! FOCUS! On the Supreme Court!
"Oh, yes!" you are probably saying. "The Supreme Court. Which of the Supreme Courtesans were up for reelection this year? And is it true that Rand Paul ran for Chief Justice?" These are all reasonable and intelligent questions, and I applaud you for asking them. However, it is my duty to burst your shiny bubble and inform you that, alas, Supreme Court justices are appointed rather than elected.
"Appointed?" you scoff. "I don't recall being asked for my opinion on Alito or Scalia or those two ladies or the other guys."
Well, gentle reader, that is because you are not actually the person who appoints Supreme Court justices. I know it seems unfair, and I do encourage you to send a letter to your congressman complaining about this injustice. But the fact is, he can't do much about it, either. That's because the power to appoint Supreme Court justices rests mostly with the President. Howevsies, the Senate does get to weigh in, and bitchy senators have worked their butts off in the past to successfully block certain nominations. This is because every U.S. Senator is, at heart, a nasty sorority girl.
The Supreme Court consists of nine humans: eight associate justices and one Chief Justice. Right now, the Chief Justice is John G. Roberts, Jr. (he's the one who got all confused with Barack Obama at the swearing-in ceremony, prompting a do-over.) They all decide important stuff, like whether pooping on the flag is constitutional, or something.
Alrighty-roo, that's really all you need to know about the Supreme Court. You can go read the decision on Plessy v. Ferguson if you really want to, but I encourage you to sit on your couch and forget everything you just learned here, because you will probably never need to use it. (Unless you actually become a Supreme Court justice one day. Which is totally very likely.)
Tags: Antonin Scalia, Cramming for Midterms, Elena Kagan, John Roberts, Midterms, Samuel Alito, Sara Benincasa, Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court
While America waits with baited breath to find out why Elena Kagan — Obama's choice for Supreme Court appointment — is the evilest woman to ever walk the Earth, here's a collection of Daily Show clips on Supreme Court appointments to help us get a running start at over-reacting…
August 6, 2009: White Men Can't Judge – Sotomayor Confirmation
The Daily Show airs Monday through Thursday at 11pm / 10c.
More videos after the jump…
Tags: Antonin Scalia, Arlen Specter, Elena Kagan, George W. Bush, Harriet Miers, John Paul Stevens, John Roberts, Jon Stewart, Robert Bork, Samuel Alito, Sandra Day O'Connor, Senate, Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court, Ted Kennedy, The Daily Show
The Presidential Oath Is Harder Than Riemann's Hypothesis (or Some Other Nerd Shit That I'm Not Actually Smart Enough to Understand)
xkcd, my favorite unpronounceable web comic/reminder-of-how-dumb-I-am, gave me an excuse to link to it today. (And I actually get the reference in it for once)…
Tags: Barack Obama, Inauguration, John Roberts, Supreme Court