If you give a mouse a cookie, they are going to want some milk to go with it … if you give the government a little bit of power, they are going to want even more.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Brittany: Hi, Emma.
Emma: Hi, Brittany.
Brittany: So I wanna talk about something today that our constitution protects. It’s called separation of powers. And this is very, very important to me. So, separation of powers is this belief that you know, we have three, well, not the belief, we do have three branches of government. So we have these three branches of government, legislative, executive, and judicial. So the legislative is who, like those who makes laws, right? They can be in the federal level or even on the state level. So legislators make laws. So then you have the executive, which is, the president, and that would be like the vice president. And that would be the agencies. We’ve talked about agencies before. So like the FDA or the EPA, those are actually part of the executive branch because the president has a role in like creating them. And then we have the judicial branch, which is, lawyers, courts, the court’s judges. So, oh, yeah. And one more thing on executive also governors. So you still have, you know an executive at the state level too. So then the courts, you know, all sorts of levels. So each of these branches has what we call delegated powers. That means specific things the constitution tells them that they are allowed to do. And then we have a system of checks and balances, which means like they all keep each other in check to balance power. So, no branch is supposed to get more powerful than the other. This is created so that we don’t have complete, you know, tyranny of one branch trying to take over another, which has happened in other countries, but sometimes it’s the military. That’s a whole other topic. but let’s try to like stage a queue. But, so in this instance, you know, there are ways to check the other. So a vita would be one from the president. So let’s say the legislature came and speak, passes a bill and the president hates that he can actually veto that bill. But there’s like a timeline. What is it? Like, there’s like three buzz or something. Don’t quote me on this work assignment. Yeah, it’s limited. It’s limited. And also the legislator could go back and check it and I also, they could go to the courts, right? So there’s all these different things that they can do to check each other, and it has to go through this process to ensure that the most balanced we can achieve happens. So that is ideally how this is supposed to work. Unfortunately, as we have learned, that doesn’t always happen. In fact, there’s something that really scares me called, judicial deference, which is a big word that is where the courts can sometimes just say, you know what? I’m not gonna judge, oh, I forgot to say what the courts do. They interpret the law. So once a law gets made, they can say like, Nope, this isn’t constitutional. So in this case, with judicial deference, they can take a law that an agency creates and say, you know what? We’re gonna let the agency both make the law and deal with interpreting it and enforcing it. So that’s a big problem because first of all, agencies like the FDA, they’re not, those people aren’t elected, so they’re not supposed to be making laws at all. And then getting to enforce them too, just a huge, what’s called a conflict of interest there. So it’s very scary. So, Emma, I want you to think of any examples on how separation of powers is getting abused today, if you can think of anything.
Emma: Yeah. The big one that comes to mind right now, just cuz it’s a big thing in the news, is this vaccine mandate that President Biden has tried to push through, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe it was an executive order that advised OSHA, which is, gosh, what does OSHA stand for?
Brittany: Oh, It’s like, you know what? I’ll look it up while you.
Emma: Oh, man safety and health and something like that. Brittany can pull it up. Yeah. The exact abbreviation while I explain this.
Brittany: Oh, okay. Occupational safety and health.
Emma: There it is.
Brittany: Agency or something. Yeah.
Emma: Something like that. Something or other. Basically, this is an agency that has a lot of oversight over businesses, especially businesses where people are working in the trades, unions, and people factory working with their hands, factory workers, and manufacturing. so it’s a very powerful agency because it oversees a really large and really important part of our economy. And if you’ve ever worked a part-time job and you’ve gone into the little break room, they always have those OSHA posters. Yes. That where they’re forced to hang them up and it tells you what the minimum wage is and what your rights are. So if, you’ve ever seen that you, you two have encountered OSHA. But essentially, I’m rambling here about OSHA, the president told OSHA to require all businesses that have a hundred or more employees to require vaccines for those people. And that is crazy because I think it’s the first time in history where the president has done such a forceful job. Yeah. Of forcing businesses to force people to do something. And it would be one thing if it were not at all controversial, I think it would still be very wrong to require businesses to do this just to require them to do it. But also vaccines do have a level of risk. And that’s something that should be left up to the individual people. So to kind of try to summarize this, OSHA is now giving this advice, quote unquote advice, it’s advice with a major force behind it that businesses need to require these vaccines. And a lot of companies are now suing President Biden and suing OSHA for trying to force this through. And it’s interesting because my husband’s actually one of the ones named on the lawsuit. Interesting. So, they are like right in the middle of this battle. So I hear a lot of interesting insights from him on this. But it’s a really crazy thing that you’ve got the president, on one hand requiring one thing through his federal agencies, and then you’ve got the Supreme Court on the other hand that is basically going to decide whether or not this is a real law or whether it’s invalid and it’s wrong and needs to be struck down. So really crazy example of the balance of power and how this works. And there is a lot hanging in the balance with this specific case.
Brittany: Yeah. And it’s, you know, it’s crazy that, you know, the president is trying to just sign an executive order to do this. So it’s nuts. And this will be kind of complicated to follow, but I do encourage you guys to listen to the Supreme Court hearings when you can I listen to it on Friday and it’s even goes over my head. Right. It’s very complicated. Yeah. But it’s very cool to listen to and maybe listen with your parents and ask questions because it’s a very important part of how our constitutional system works. So another way emergency powers has really been abused, or sorry. Separation of powers has really been abused is through emergency orders during the pandemic. For example, one thing that’s crazy is in Kentucky right now, the governor basically gave himself unlimited power. Now there could be some argument. Now, I do not let his argument, there could be some argument as to why they should have made emergency orders when the pandemic first happened. Right. Because we didn’t know what was gonna happen. Now I definitely want to air on the side of freedom in all things, right? So yeah, I don’t necessarily support that, but it could be justified that there was some reason for governors due to take some action in the very, very beginning. However, with these emergency orders, there’s no end date. So they can take this unlimited power, so to speak, to shut down businesses to, you know, keep kids home from school. Or the funniest thing is to decide which businesses get to stay open. That always cracks me. Oh yeah. Where you can, if you’re a restaurant, you can stay open, but if you are considered a bar, even if you have food, you can, or like, if you order chicken wings, this is the silly rule from like New York, then that’s fine. So like apparent, it’s just, there’s so many jumbled things and a lot of people can’t even keep track of them. So businesses don’t know if they’re breaking the law. Well, so the legislature in Kentucky passed a bill that basically said, the governor has to set an end date for this. He can’t just rule like a tyrant king, you know, we fought a revolution for this. So in response, and this is what’s crazy to me, the governor is suing the legislature basically saying, I have ultimate authority. I should be able to do this. And that is just nuts to me. And that’s, you know, Kentucky is not the only place. Michigan, I know, is it Gretchen Whitmer? Is that how you say her name? Yeah. Yeah. She’s been really terrible too. And I think it was Michigan where there were silly laws that were like, okay, you can buy things at Walmart, but we’re gonna tell you what things you can buy at Walmart because you can only buy essential goods. So this is blocked off, you know, but this isn’t, and is it just like.
Emma: Your leaves or you can’t garden? It was crazy.
Brittany: So silly rules. New York has been really bad too. One of my favorite, things in New York is they said that church services could stay open, but like plays couldn’t happen. Now, the funny thing about this, and I know a lady who owns a theater, and this happened to her where she rents out her space to a church on Sunday. So it’s the same safety protocols for both the church and the play. But one of them, she’s allowed to open up at full capacity, meaning that she can have all the seats she has filled. And with the theater, she can only fill certain seats. I think the fan is lifted, but New York’s a mess, so who knows? so that’s some abuse of power, right? That’s not supposed to happen. These governors are ruling indefinitely and there’s no separation of power. So that’s another good example.
Emma: Totally. And another one that I think of is the mask mandate on an airplane. And if you’ve been on an airplane over the last two years, you’ve heard the droning, it’s like, you know, due to a federal regulation, blah, blah, blah, you must wear your mask over your nose and mouth the entire time. And now they’re even getting mad at you if you have your mask on, or if you have it off like in between bites. And if you’re chewing, and it’s just this crazy thing. I got yelled at the other day for not putting it over my mouth.
Brittany: Even if you were eating?
Emma: Chewing while I was chewing.
Brittany: By a person or by a stewardess, or like.
Emma: By a stewardess. And I was, she was like, this, it’s not in my control. It’s the lawn. And I just wanted to ask where that was coming from. Yeah, that’s absurd, but I didn’t even wanna get into it. Didn’t wanna get banned from American Airlines. Yeah, yeah. So anyway, the mask mandates people point to FAA regulation, and the FAA is an agency that was never given any sort of power over what we can do with our bodies. It’s, it concerns airlines and aviation and honestly, probably shouldn’t even exist at all because why is the federal government controlling so much of that stuff? but it’s an interesting thing where you have these agencies that were never given any sort of constitutional power to make these rules, and now they’re affecting our lives in very real, very tangible ways. So it’s just crazy and it’s a really good reminder that you know, these are the things we’re thinking about right now. The mask mandates and the vaccine mandates and that kind of thing, because this is a pressing, you know, current matter that we’re worried about. But there are all sorts of laws that do the same thing that come from these federal agencies, and that the only way to really get them to give the power back to us is through a lawsuit. So I’m thankful that we have that balance of power, but sometimes it can be frustrating when the federal government just pays zero attention to the rules that they are supposed to follow. And I think that’s what’s so important about us knowing our constitution and knowing our rights, and also knowing what our government is supposed to look like ideally. Because if we don’t know that stuff, there’s no way we can ever tell the government, Hey, actually you’re in the wrong here. So knowing is kind of the first step to calling attention to these things and being a part of these lawsuits and keeping up and paying attention. So that’s kind of my 2 sense.
Brittany: Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right. So I just, you know, a reminder to, it’s always good to read the Constitution again with your parents and pick these things out. Say like, oh, that’s that separation of powers, you know, or the checks and balances stuff that they were talking about. So there, that can be some homework for you.
Emma: Yes, exactly. Always read the Constitution. It is always going to help you. You’ll always find new things in it. And if you need a little help understanding, just have a parent help you out. And maybe we’ll do an episode where we just kind of read through it together and break it down. That might be fun.
Brittany: That could be fun. Yeah.
Emma: Like with one future series or something. But we’re gonna wrap it up here today, guys. Thank you so much for listening, and we will talk to you all again soon.
Brittany: Talk to you soon.