A Cognitive Test for Presidents

What did the Framers mean when, in the Constitution, they used the word ‘dollars’ — and other questions from the Sun.

Via Wikimedia Commons
Junius Brutus Stearns, 'Washington at Constitutional Convention of 1787, signing of U.S. Constitution,' detail. Via Wikimedia Commons

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos spent a portion of his interview with the president last night trying to hornswoggle him into taking a cognitive test. We’re not against it. Then again, too, it depends on which cognitive test he would take. We recommend The New York Sun’s Standard, Copyrighted Cognitive Voluntary Test for Presidents. It is designed for both Democratic and Republican candidates. The seven questions are multiple choice. Have fun.

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1. The Constitution uses the word “dollars” twice. It offers no definition. What, then, did the founders mean by a dollar? 

a) A group of pixels created by the Federal Reserve; b) a one-pound bale of tobacco; c) a promise to repay a dollar; d) 416 grains of standard silver or the equivalent in gold; e) four quarters.

2. The Constitution grants the power to declare war — and to grant letters of marque and reprisal — to Congress. To whom does the Constitution grant the power to declare peace?

a) The Supreme Court; b) three quarters of the state legislatures; c) the Framers considered granting the power to make peace to Congress, but eventually thought the better of it and chose not to trust the power to make peace to any branch of the government; d) America’s enemies; e) the Chief Justice of the United States.

3. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution enumerates the powers given to Congress. Article 1, Section 9 enumerates a list of things that Congress is forbidden from doing. From the following list please choose one or more answers that list a power forbidden to Congress.

a) Repaying money Congress borrowed; b) granting a title of nobility; c)  preferring the ports of one state, like, say, Kansas over another, like, say, Maryland; d) establishing a king; e) permitting office holders to accept a title.

4) What is the most emphatic — mind the subtleties — statement in the entire Constitution?

a) The “right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”; b) “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States”; c) “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law”; d) “No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed”; e) No State shall “make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.”

5) Please, minding the subtleties again, identify which of the following powers are denied to the states absent the consent of Congress? 

a) Keeping troops in time of war; b) keeping troops in time of peace; c) making an agreement with another state; d) making an agreement with a foreign power; e)  engaging in war when invaded.

6) What is the one thing that is so important that it may not even be amended out of the Constitution?

a) Freedom of the press; b) the power to declare war; c) denying women equal suffrage in the Senate; c) depriving a state, absent its consent, equal suffrage in the Senate; d) the freedom of interstate commerce; e) the right to fish.

7) What is the definition in the Constitution for the Supreme Law of the Land?

a) The Constitution; b) the Constitution and all laws passed by Congress; c) all laws passed by Congress and all treaties made under the authority of the United States; d) the Constitution, all laws passed by Congress, and all treaties made under the authority of the United States; e) the United Nations Charter.


The correct answers are: 

1. D; 2. C; 3. Any two of B, C, D, or E; 4. B; 5. B, C, and D; 6. C; 7. D.

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