Wrongful Power, Wrongfully Placed

Okay, this is two days straight that we'll get a very good civics primer from a land use blog and it comes again from Tom Terrell in a post about protest petitions:

In the American system of government, individual citizens are granted rights and freedoms, but not powers.  Rights and freedoms are actions which cannot be prohibited or controlled by a government.  In most instances, they are either (1) limitations on a government’s ability to control what we say and do or to interfere with our lives, or (2) protections of our ability to participate in democratic processes.

Powers, on the other hand, are granted only to individuals who are elected or appointed to office through controlled processes and who swear an oath to uphold the law and use their powers to serve others.  Those powers can be legislative or executive, and they are always subject to judicial review.

Such powers include the ability to pass laws, enforce laws and interpret laws.

Protest petitions run afoul of the American system of government because they aren’t rights or freedoms.  Rather, the protest petition statute grants, to an unelected citizen, the power to manipulate the decision-making authority of a duly-elected legislative body for the citizen’s personal benefit.

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