Columnist Billy Gunn says two members of the Lafayette City-Parish Council were pushing a locally produced plan to require any candidate for public office in Louisiana to be tested on their knowledge of the state and federal constitutions. Councilmen William Theriot and Andy Naquin say candidates should prove they have “basic knowledge” of them.

May I suggest that those gentlemen study the constitutions themselves?

The U.S. Constitution sets precise qualifications for only three elective offices. A president must be at least 35 years old and a native-born citizen of the United States. A senator must be 30 years old and a U.S. citizen for at least nine years. No other qualifications are necessary. A congressman must be 25 and a citizen for seven years. That’s it. All done.

The Louisiana Constitution does add special requirements for specific offices — coroners should be doctors, judges must be lawyers and it says every candidate must be a registered voter.

You don’t even have to be able to read, although all doctors and most lawyers can.

But maybe the councilmen are on to something.

Maybe we should raise civics to the same level as math, science and English language arts for everyone in high school.

That way, in order to graduate, future voters and candidates alike would learn more about our constitutions and pass a test showing they have “basic knowledge” of both their rights and responsibilities as citizens.

Russ Wise

St. John the Baptist Parish School Board member and president-elect of Louisiana School Boards Association