Playing by the Rules

small judge gavel placed on table near folders

Here in Indiana, we play a card game called euchre. Like all such contests, there are rules that must be followed in order for the game to work. You have to follow suit, for example, and also coordinating with your partner via “table talk” is strictly forbidden.

It’s the rules that make euchre work. And it’s the rules that make a government and a society work too. When you don’t follow the rules, the game isn’t fun to play. And when a government or members of society don’t follow the rules—well, that’s far worse than cheating at cards.

In our country, the details of the rules are extremely complicated with more nuance than any one person could ever understand. That’s because there are hundreds of millions of citizens and all kinds of situations the laws are trying to cover. But all most of us need to know was covered in your high school civics class:

  1. A brief document called the Constitution is the supreme law of the land.
  2. Congress makes laws according to the powers listed in the Constitution.
  3. The Executive Branch, headed by the President, is responsible for implementing and enforcing those laws.
  4. Any laws Congress is not interested in making or isn’t permitted to under the Constitution are handled by states and local municipalities.
  5. If citizens have a problem with a law or with its enforcement, they can challenge it in the court system; and the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of whether or not an act is or is not legal under the Constitution.

There’s more to know, of course, but that’s the basic framework. And it’s why what’s happening in Texas right now is downright frightening. Because in 1973, the Supreme Court decided that a whole category of state laws were unconstitutional. They Court further refined their ruling in 1992.

But last week, a Texas law went into effect that directly violates what the Supreme Court has already said. That’s not how the system works. A state cannot ignore the Constitution and rulings by the Supreme Court.

In your own family, the person who cheats at euchre is ruining the game for everyone else. And maybe the consequences are only that you do something else to pass the time while dinner is cooking.

But in our nation, when people in the government break the rules, the consequences are far more severe. And it’s not just happening in Texas. Or in Indiana. There are rulebreakers absolutely everywhere.

It’s okay if we want to change the rules. That’s a conversation we can have. But the rule of law—the agreement to follow the rules we have—is essential.

I’m running for Congress because playing by the rules is the only way I play.

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