Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Oct 8, 2020 in Stuff You Should Know

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump Test Positive for COVID-19

Early Friday morning, October 2, President Trump announced via Twitter that he and the First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus. The president planned to quarantine in the White House for two weeks but over the weekend he spent time at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in nearby Bethesda, Maryland. The president released pictures and videos over the weekend showing him continuing to fulfil  his presidential duties. Monday evening President Trump returned to the White House where he will continue to recover and quarantine.

In addition to White House advisor Hope Hicks who announced she tested positive on October 1, several more people who had visited the White House earlier in week had test positive with COVID-19.

Dig Deeper  What happens if a president is ill and unable to fulfill his or her duties? Take a look at the U.S. Constitution to learn more.

Remembering RBG

In September, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made history even after her death. She was the first woman (and the first Jewish person) to lie in state . What does that mean? Beginning with Congressman Henry Clay in 1852, it is a tradition in the United States that some government officials and military officers have their remains placed in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol so that others can pay a final tributes. (Private citizens can also be placed in the Rotunda, but it is said that they are lying “in honor,” not “in state.”) Coffins for those lying in state are traditionally placed on the simple pine stand that was constructed for President Lincoln’s coffin. They are then available for public viewing, while the military guards them. Often, thousands of people will line up for the opportunity to view the remains.

Who decides who receives this recognition? No rules are officially spelled out, but in general Congress (and the individual’s family) must approve. So far, 36 people have been recognized this way, including twelve presidents (most recently, George H.W. Bush) and thirteen senators (most recently, John McCain). Before the twentieth century, the honor was reserved for officials who died while still in office, but that is no longer the case today. Generally any family of a distinguished person that requests this ceremony has received it.

Dig Deeper Although Justice Ginsburg is the first woman to lie in state, another woman has already been lain in honor. Who was she? Why was she recognized in this way?

Trump Announces Supreme Court Replacement

Just days after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in late September, Donald Trump announced his nominee for her replacement: Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Barrett, 48, currently serves as a federal appellate judge and a law professor at Notre Dame, where she has been voted Distinguished Professor of the Year three times. Born in New Orleans, she is married to Jesse Barrett, also a U.S. Attorney, and is the mother of seven children.

Barrett has her own history with the Supreme Court. Early in her legal career, she served as law clerk to former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Two years ago, Judge Barrett was a finalist to replace retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. That court vacancy was filled by Justice Bret Kavanaugh. Barrett is known for her writings on faith and the law, and is also known for being an “originalist” interpreter of the Constitution. This means that she believes the Constitution should be interpreted based on the original meaning of its authors. Judge Barrett has also said that she believes the Court should deliver rulings based on the Constitution rather than on precedent, which means not ruling based on similar cases that have come before.

Supreme Court justices are appointed by the president, but they must be confirmed by the Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to begin confirmations on Barrett’s nomination as soon as October 12.

Dig Deeper If confirmed, Judge Barrett would be only the fifth woman to serve on the Supreme Court. Who are the other four?

Trying to Change the District of Columbia’s Status

Aerial view of Washington, D.C., looking west
Some are trying to make Washington D.C. the fifty-first state. Credit: Carol M. Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [LC-DIG-highsm-01901]

Washington, D.C., is not a part of any state. That’s because, when the city was established as the capital in 1790, lawmakers didn’t want any one state to house the capital and have an advantage over the other states. At the time, not enough people lived there for Washington, D.C., to become its own state. Over time, however, this has changed. Residents of the city say that granting D.C. statehood is a civil rights issue. Over 700,000 people live in the District of Columbia–more than in the states of Wyoming and Vermont–and yet residents are without representation. (The District has a delegate in the House of Representatives, but she can only draft legislation and cannot vote on final versions of bills. The city has no representation in the Senate.) A push for D.C. statehood has become so widespread that today, all of the city’s standard license plates read “End Taxation Without Representation.”

The issue of the District’s statehood is finally gaining some political traction as well. The Democratic Party has made D.C. statehood an official part of its 2020 platform. And over the summer, the House of Representatives passed HR51, which is the first time a chamber of Congress has ever passed a law in favor of D.C. statehood. But there are still major roadblocks on the path to statehood. While there is nothing in the Constitution that says the District can’t become a state, there is debate over whether or not there is constitutional authority for Congress to grant statehood. And outside of the city itself, statehood is still not a popular idea: according to a recent Gallup poll, 64 percent of Americans oppose it.

What Do You Think? In your opinion, should Washington, D.C., become the 51st state? Why or why not?

True Sportsmanship at the Lacrosse World Games

In 2022, the Lacrosse World Games will be held in Birmingham, Alabama. Eight teams, representing eight different nations, will compete in the games. But when creating the schedule, one team was left out: the Iroquois Nationals. That’s because, according to event organizers, the team doesn’t represent its own, sovereign nation. But the Iroquois team argued that the Iroquois are indeed an independent nation–they even have their own passports. In fact, the Haudenosaunee, represented by the Nationals, were the originators of lacrosse in the first place. They call it “medicine game.” An online petition calling for the Iroquois Nationals to be included has been signed by over 54,000 people.

Eventually, the organizers relented. But by then it was too late, and the roster was already full. So the Irish national team chose to act. Ireland gave up its spot in the 2022 Games to make room for the Iroquois Nationals to play instead. The Irish team recognized that it was the Iroquois who invented the game in the first place, and that it was wrong for them not to get to compete. For their part, Iroquois Nationals players say that they will win the 2022 competition not just for themselves, but for Ireland.

Dig Deeper Conduct some research to learn more about the Lacrosse World Games. Which other teams are competing in 2022? How many years have the games been going on? How long does the tournament last? Write a short paragraph about what you learn.