The Constitution’s taxonomy of officers and offices

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/09/25/the-emoluments-clauses-litigation-part-1-the-constitutions-taxonomy-of-officers-and-offices/?utm_term=.17f151f1bbe7

This articles details the hierarchical taxonomy of the offices of the United States of America, specifically the Office of the Presidency and the other offices of the Executive and Legislative branches. What this article examines is how various versions of classification schemes determine certain legal rights and actions that offices of the US government have to engage in. Interestingly, and possibly expectedly, enough, there are multiple ways to look at how the Constitution organizes the legal rights and responsibilities of people appointed to various offices and how these appointments affect our ability to hold our governmental representatives to the law.

I thought this was a fitting and interesting article considering our readings this week. In Landridge’s article, “Classification: Its kinds, Elements, Systems, and Applications“, he specifically discusses how all classifications are made, not discovered, and that classifications are  practical necessities tied to achieve specific purposes. These classification schemes become faceted or hierarchical taxonomies that shape our organization of knowledge, and as this organization becomes embedded in our understanding of society, taxonomies end up implying cultural values. 

This idea is taken a step farther in Melissa Adler’s incisive article, ” Classification Along the Color Line: Excavating Racism in the Stacks.” What Adler discusses is how taxonomies and ontologies used within the Library of Congress, Dewey Decimal System, and other various library classification schemes have encouraged a racist and elitist interpellation within American culture, by encouraging the idea of seeing Black Americans as other. She explains that it is our duty as librarians to counteract these egregious errors and misconceptions touted by standard library taxonomies in order to create greater knowledge, identity and access equality in libraries throughout the United States. 

What Adler explains, and what the attached article also discusses, is that taxonomies create societal and cultural hierarchies that we as information professionals must be aware of and change whenever necessary. Documents such as the Constitution have taxonomies created within them that we must understand in order to be effectively represented and protected under the law. They define our relationship to the state, to each other, and to our rights as citizens of this country. If we do not carefully consider them and assist those who are not provided for, we may find ourselves disenfranchised, and our world much changed. 

Submitted by: Drew Facklam

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Cataloging, Classification, Knowledge Structures, Libraries, Library

by Hugh McLeod

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Pratt Institute School of Information
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