The Democracy Book-Principle 17

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Principle 17: Managers are elected to make decisions and to run the operations of the country.  They have to do it by the Supreme Law of the land and any new laws made after the Supreme Law was made. Judges make sure managers go the laws.

A judge in robe with gavel

Judges make sure managers run society according to the law. Laws are made to help society run smoothly. Managers handle the day to day details of society. That is what they were elected to do.  But they have to do it the way the law says to do it. One of the details is hiring people for jobs. The law says that no matter what color your skin is you have an equal right to apply for those jobs. So the managers must let people with all different colors of skin apply for the jobs. The law also says they must let people with disabilities apply for the jobs. The managers have to obey that law too.

If they don’t follow the law they will have to go to court and the judges will make them obey the law.  Judges make sure the laws the people voted for are obeyed. There are more laws that say how the money must be spent. There are more laws about how money records are kept. This is so the people can look at the money records and make sure that the managers are honest. There are many laws the managers have to think about when they make decisions. They cannot just run things any way they want to. In a democracy the managers must run things the way the law says. If they don’t make good decisions they may not be elected again.


Most everyone was okay with the yellow arm band practice after that. But, not everyone was. One of the kids, Ramon, whose parents were dead, said that honoring dead parents was so important that there should be a law requiring people with dead parents to wear the yellow arm bands on Tuesdays. He tried to get the lawmakers to say a kid, whose parents were dead, would be locked in his or her room for a full day if they did not wear the arm band on a Tuesday. But the lawmakers did not buy it. They knew that would be against the laws already set up. For sure it would violate the “you can do what you want as long as it doesn’t hurt others” law. It would probably be against other laws too.

But Ramon still was not satisfied so he took his case to court. He said he would make trouble for those who did not wear the arm bands when he thought they should. He was sure he was right. Ramon wanted the court to agree with him. Court was made up of people elected to say what a law really means when there is a disagreement about what it means. Sometimes managers want to say a law means one thing and different managers, or even just ordinary people, may want to say it means something else. So the court was set up with judges to say what the law really means. The decisions of the judges are important and people have to go by their decisions. Judges look at the law very carefully and then say what it means.

The judge said, “Ramon, you can’t force people to wear yellow arm bands. That would be against the law. The wearing of arm bands is a voluntary practice. It may be a good idea, but it is not law.”

He went on to tell Ramon to stop making trouble for those who did not want to wear the arm bands.  Ramon seemed unhappy for days after the judge told him that his idea was not legal. He lost his case in court and he did not like that. But he knew the judges were the boss when it was a question of what does the law mean. Finally, by the time of Elena’s birthday party Ramon seemed ok again. To be continued....

Activity: This will be a role play. Explain to the students that you will be leading them through the situation described in the discussion page (people of all colors get to apply for jobs) and they will be acting it out so they can feel the experience. You will need students to play: (1) the judge, (2) the managers, (3) job applicants, and (4) a police officer. This is a simple version of how society is run by law. Not every step is included here. Scene I: Have the managers role play being in a meeting and deciding to hire people to work on the streets. Scene II: Have a job applicant pretend to be black, another to be green, another to be white and another to be purple.  Tell the kids to imagine the people being these colors as they go up and apply for the job to the managers. The applicants each apply, one after another. Scene III: In a CLOSED MEETING the managers decide to not let green people apply. Scene IV: The managers call the green person and tell him that he will not be allowed to apply because he is green. Green person leaves
disappointed. Scene V: Police officer gets the managers, tells them they broke the law, and takes them to court to await the judge. Scene VI: Judge comes in, bangs the gavel, tells them the charge (not letting green people apply for jobs) and asks if the are guilty. They say yes, they are guilty. Judge tells them each to pay a fine of $5,000. Discuss the role play with the children. As it gets more clear to them what the message of the role play is, they may want to re-do the role play (with different actors) again to make the various points more clear. Do they think it is good that in a democracy the managers must do their work the way the law says? “In a democracy the people who manage society must do it according to law.”

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