Why does a NWPA conservative want to post part of the state Constitution in every school? | Tuesday Morning Coffee

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Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

So what’s wrong with a little civics education? A bill sponsored by a Jefferson County lawmaker has us asking some questions.

This week, state Rep. Cris Dush, whose previous contributions to the Big Book O’Bad Ideas includes a bill calling for the impeachment of four Democratic members of the state Supreme Courtbegan looking for cosponsors for his plan to mandate the posting of the preamble to the Pennsylvania Constitution “in the entrance of every school building where state funding is provided to the district or institution of higher education.”

Again, what could be wrong with a little civics education?

In a word, God.

Billy Penn gets down with the locals.

First up, a little context:

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve no doubt noticed that efforts to slap “In God We Trust,” on school buildings and other public edifices tend to be litigation magnets. There’s even coordinated national effort to get the Cold War-era slogan posted on as many school buildings as possible.

It’s not explicitly clear that’s where Dush, an arch-conservative, is headed, but stick with us for a moment. The hints are there.

First up, here’s the preamble to the state’s foundational document:

“WE, the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance, do ordain and establish this Constitution,” the preamble reads. 

So, it’s not “In God we trust.” It’s more like, “Thanks for all the politics, God.”

The Pennsylvania House chamber. Image via Flickr Commons

In his co-sponsorship memo, Dush says his proposal is all about making sure the kids know their history.

“Constitutional republics are unique in world history. While other forms of government have relied on the use of force for a dictator, monarch or totalitarian organization to make subjects of the people, constitutional republics rely on a written declaration of The People as to what form of government they will accept,” he writes, later borrowing a bon mot from James Madison to lament that “the distinction is not ‘so well understood in America.'”

We could argue that the confusion starts at the top, but no matter.

Posting that thicket of constitutional verbiage in school entryways will serve as a “daily remind[er] [to] students preparing to take their place in this republic of the power and responsibility they will assume,” when they finish their educational careers, Dush wrote in his co-sponsorship memo.

The U.S. Constitution (National Constitution Center photo)

Again, we’re all for a little civics education. It’s important to understand the separation of powers; to learn the ins-and-outs of the legislative process, and to fully comprehend how a bill becomes law.

And nowhere is that more gracefully set down than the preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

We just have to ask why, if it’s a reminder of their public responsibilities, that model of verbal economy isn’t worthy of being posted in the entryway of every school building across our fair Commonwealth? Why, we ask, might it not be just as inspirational and educational to scores of Pennsylvania students?

What one word, we cannot help but wonder, might be missing?

God only knows.

WikiMedia Commons

Our Stuff.
With President Donald Trump set to tour the still-under-construction shale cracker plant in western Pennsylvania this morning, Associate Editor Sarah Anne Hughes artfully explains what a cracker plant is and how a blizzard of Republican-backed tax credits led to its long-awaited construction.

Staff Reporter Stephen Caruso caught up with Auditor General Eugene DePasquale who’s calling for better training for district magistrates after a Keystone Kopsesque error led to hundreds of people wrongfully ending up with criminal records.

Elizabeth Hardison reveals a silent killer among Pennsylvania’s correctional officers and prison inmates: A plague of suicide.

Thanks to years of connections, former Vice President Joe Biden has a mammoth cash advantage among the 2020 Democrats in Pennsylvania. He’s raised nearly twice as much as President Donald Trump in a state Trumpcarried in 2016, according to our analysis of new Federal Election Commission filings.

On our Commentary PageTyler Moran of the advocacy group The Immigration Hub says today would be a perfect day, with Trump in the state, for Pennsylvanians to make their voices heard on the White House’s ‘cruel’ immigration policies. And Opinion regular Mark O’Keefe argues the case for moving up Pennsylvania’s presidential primary, now an ungodly late April 28, 2020.

(Dsw4/WikiMedia Commons)

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The Inquirer
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It will not surprise you to learn that the Post-Gazette has wall-to-wall coverage of this morning’s presidential visit to Beaver County,
Gov. Tom Wolf is looking for an answers on why four kids were separated from their families, the Associated Press reports (via PennLive).
Allentown’s police chief has resigned, putting the city in line for its fifth chief in four years, the Morning Call reports.
The Tribune-Review looks at the ongoing reverberations of Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s grand jury report on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day:

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U.S. Rep. Scott Perry’s new primary challenger, Bobby Jeffries, has accused the 10th District lawmaker of being insufficiently pro-TrumpPoliticsPA reports.
These are the places where doctors can prescribe marijuana to replace opioidsStateline.org reports.
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Roll Call goes deep on a Trump plan to deny citizenship or other legal statusbased on immigrant’s past use — or expected use — of public benefits.

WolfWatch.
Gov. Tom Wolf
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You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to former Rendell/Thompson/Kane administration spokesman, and longtime Friend O’the Blog, Chuck Ardo, and to constant reader Ellen Ross in the Pa. Dept. of Health, both of whom celebrate today. Congratulations and enjoy the day, folks.

Hail and Farewell.
Our deepest prayers and condolences go out to our friends and colleagues at the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News on the passing of the wonderful Gar Joseph, a versatile editor and fine journalist, who died of cancer on Saturday, aged 71. We cannot claim to have known him well, but our interactions were always cordial and professional. We also credit Gar to introducing us to our favorite cocktail, Campari & soda, one cold December night at Bull & the Bear at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. So long, and godspeed.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s one from Mos Def’s legendary ‘Black on Both Sides,’ LP. It’s ‘Hip-Hop.’

Tuesday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
Baltimore 
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And now you’re up to date.

An award-winning political journalist with more than 25 years' experience in the news business, John L. Micek is The Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. Before joining The Capital-Star, Micek spent six years as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., where he helped shape and lead a multiple-award-winning Opinion section for one of Pennsylvania's most-visited news websites. Prior to that, he spent 13 years covering Pennsylvania government and politics for The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. His career has also included stints covering Congress, Chicago City Hall and more municipal meetings than he could ever count, Micek contributes regular analysis and commentary to a host of broadcast outlets, including CTV-News in Canada and talkRadio in London, U.K., as well as "Face the State" on CBS-21 in Harrisburg, Pa.; "Pennsylvania Newsmakers" on WGAL-8 in Lancaster, Pa., and the Pennsylvania Cable Network. His weekly column on American politics is syndicated nationwide to more than 800 newspapers by Cagle Syndicate.

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