Civics Quiz & Quotes

Test Your Civics Quotient (CQ)


1. What were the first 4 US presidential cabinet positions, and in which year were they established by law?

Secretary of State - 1789
Secretary of the Treasury - 1789
Secretary of War - 1789
Attorney General - 1789

2. When and how was Inauguration Day moved from March 4 to January 20?

    In 1933, through the ratification of the 20th Constitutional Amendment (on Jan. 23.)

3. When and on what day do new terms of US senators and representatives begin?

    January 3 at 12 noon

4. When is Election Day, 2018?

    Tuesday, November 6

How many directly elected representatives do Summit, NJ, citizens have altogether (including all 4 levels of government.)  (NB: Pres./ VP count as 1.)  

Counting from local to national:  (municipal) 1 mayor; 4 city councilors (1 at-large and 3 each in Wards 1/2); (county) 9 At-large Union County Chosen Freeholders; (state) 1 governor; 1 state senator; 2 state assemblymen/women; (national) 1 president (vote includes VP); 2 US senators; and 1 US congressman/woman.)  Grand total: 22.  

That's a lot of relationships!  


Canada has kindly given pre-election encouragement to us Americans. 

  • How many US states share a water or land border with Ontario?

          Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York

170 nations agreed on Oct . 15 to limit or phase out the use of chemical coolants called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs.) 

  • In what city and nation was the agreement reached?

           Kigali, Rwanda

  • Which are the world's 5 largest cities, and what are their ballpark populations?

           1. Tokyo - 38 mill.
           2. Delhi - 25 mill.
           3. Shanghai - 23 mill
           4. Mexico City - 21 mill.
           5. Sao Paulo, Brazil - 21 mill.


Over the last century (i.e. since 1916), what year saw the highest voter turnout for a presidential election (in the United States)?

1960, 62.8% of the voting age population cast their ballots

Which nation has the highest voter turnout?

Belgium. In 2014, 87.2% of the voting age population participated. Note: Voting in Belgium is compulsory. 
Source: Pew Research Center 

What state had the highest number of polling places in 2004?

California had over 14,000 polling places for the 2004 general election.
Source: United States Election Assistance Commission


What is the 3-part process by which vacancies on the Supreme Court are filled?

1. The President nominates a Justice.
2. The Senate gives advice and consent.
3.  The President then appoints the Justice to the Supreme Court.

What kind of majority constitutes Senate approval? 

A simple majority.   

In the 20th century, how many appointments to the Supreme Court have occurred in an election year? 
a.) 4
b.) 6
c.) 8

b.) Six, in 1912, 1916 (Jan), 1916 (Jul), 1932, 1940, and 1956. 
(In October 1956, Eisenhower made a 'recess appointment' of Justice William Brennan.  In October 1968, Justice Abe Fortas, already on the Court, was nominated by LBJ to be Chief Justice but not confirmed.) 

How many days did the longest vacancy on the nine-justice Supreme Court last? 
a.) 71 days
b.) 125 days
c.) 391 days


391 days.  Richard Nixon's first two attempts to replace Justice Abe Fortas (after his resignation) were narrowly rejected in November 1969 and April 1970. 


"Environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues – ranging from climate change to diversity to board effectiveness – have real and quantifiable financial impacts."

            -Laurence Fink (Letter to corporate CEOs, 2/2/16)

10 words or less...

"We're living in a time when equations can be changed."
    -Forest Whitaker (on diversity)

"Unfortunately, Wall Street mistook leverage for genius." 
    -Steve Eisman (on financial culture and feedback) 


"In towns across our country, citizens work together to solve the problems of their communities regardless of their party affiliation."  - Robert O'Hara

Based on what we've observed and experienced, we believe this is accurate!


Transportation contributes what percentage of US greenhouse gas emissions?

Approximately 27 percent (in 2013)
What percentage of US greenhouse gas emissions comes from the production of electricity?

Approximately 31% (in 2013)
By what year are US automakers required to reach a "corporate average fuel economy" of 37 miles per gallon?

By what year must they achieve a 54 m.p.g. "corporate average fuel economy?"

Name 4 models of all-electric vehicles (of the 20+ available)

Send us your list!  -
[Sources: EPA; NY Times articles 1/12/16]


What is the proper name of the recent climate convention in Paris?

The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference
In which suburb did the talks take place?

Le Bourget
How many UN climate conferences have occurred since the 1992 conference in Rio?

Twenty-one. The 2015 Paris meeting was the 21st COP (Committee of the Parties) meeting following the Rio talks in 1992, and the 11th CMP (Committee Meeting of Parties) since the Kyoto talks in 2005.  
What are INDCs?

Intended Nationally Determined Contributions are components of each nation's plan for carbon emission reductions.
What percentage of France's energy use is from non-carbon fuel sources?

90% of French power is from nuclear, wind, and hydro-electric power sources. 

10% of its energy is from carbon-based fuel sources.   
What percentage of US energy use is from carbon-based fuel sources?

Estimates range from 67% to 83%


How many nations signed the Paris Climate agreement?

How many nations submitted plans in advance of the Paris talks to reduce or limit carbon emissions?


What is the goal of the agreement in terms of global temperature change?

To limit global temperature rise to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to 1.5 degrees Celsius if possible.

How often will nations reconvene to report on their carbon emissions reductions?  Beginning when?

Every 5 years beginning in 2023.
Extra Credit: Based on the Paris agreement, what new qualitative measurement might be factored into future environmental strategy and policy analysis?

GPP: global peer pressure


The 5 largest carbon dioxide emitters, currently, are:

China, US, European Union, India, Russia

Four of the largest per-capita carbon dioxide emitters include:

Australia, Saudi Arabia, US, Canada

Which countries were the largest emitters of carbon dioxide, 1850 - 2011, cumulatively?

U.S., European Union, China

A new leading currency, as designated by the IMF, is:

the (Chinese) renminbi  

International affairs, energy and environment, combined, comprise:

2.5% of the 2015 federal budget. 

Additional reading:

6 Graphs Explain the World’s Top 10 Emitters


Name the world's 2 largest ice sheets.

Greenland and Antarctica
Name our 5 largest contents.

Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica
One Gigaton (of ice) equals how many tons?

1 billion tons (of ice)
The approximate size of Antarctica in square miles is:

a.)  1,000,000
b.)  5,400,000
c.)  9,800,000

A: 5,400,000 square miles
Name 2 of Greenland's fastest moving glaciers (hint: ladder, "rock")

Jakobshavn Glacier and Petermann Glacier.   Click for the names of Greenland's 54 glaciers.   

Additional reading: 
Climate Central has a recent study on the increasing speed of Jakobshavn Glacier.
Jon Gertner's article, "The Secrets in Greenland's Ice Sheets," addresses the complexities of glacial melting and the hazards of predicting sea level rise as a linear progression.   (Nov 12, 2015, NY Times Magazine)


Paris alphabet...

As prep for the upcoming Paris climate talks, we're brushing up on abbreviations.

What are the IPCC, the UNFCCC, and COP21?

A: The IPCC is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, formed in 1988 under the auspices of the United Nations. The IPCC's Chair is Hoesung Lee of South Korea.   

The UNFCCC is the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, an international treaty adopted in 1992 to address the threats of climate change.  The UNFCCC's Executive Secretary is Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica.

COP21 is the name of the upcoming climate talks in Paris, beginning on November 30, 2015.   The abbreviation stands for the 21st annual session of the Conference of the Parties (to the 1992 UNFCCC).   COP21 is also the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.   

How many member states are currently in the United Nations?

A:  The UN has 193 member states, each of which is a member of the General Assembly.


How many major watershed management regions, designated by the D.E.P., are there in New Jersey?

A:  5 (From North to South) Northwest; Northeast; Raritan; Lower Delaware; Atlantic Coastal

How many actual watersheds are in New Jersey?

A:  New Jersey has 20 Watersheds.  View maps of the 5 management regions and the 20 watershed management areas at

Easy Credit:  Name the four bodies of water and waterways that border New Jersey.

A:  Delaware River; Hudson River; Atlantic Ocean; Delaware Bay


hint:  home of the Great Falls...NYC girls' school...Ohio city...revolutionary governor

Who were New Jersey's 4 signers of the US Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787?

A: William Paterson; David Brearley; Jonathan Dayton, and William Livingston. 
Wm. Paterson served as 2nd governor of NJ and as Associate Supreme Court Justice. Brearley served in the Continental Army and became NJ Supreme Court Chief Justice; Jonathan Dayton was the youngest signer of the Constitution at age 26; William Livingston served as NJ's governor from 1776 to 1790 and was re-elected 14 times.  


hint:  solstice...

Which was the crucial 9th state to ratify the Constitution, and on what date did this occur?

A: New Hampshire became the 9th state to ratify the Constitution on June 21, 1788.  Ratification by 9 states meant that the document was officially adopted.     


hint:  round number... 

How many years passed between the incorporation of Associated Press [AP] in New York State as a not-for-profit cooperative, and the passage of the 19th amendment (voting rights for women)? 

20 years. 
AP incorporated in New York State as a not-for-profit cooperative in 1900.  
Amendment XIX was ratified on August 18, 1920.