Rep. Rush Holt to Terrill 7th Graders: 'I'm Really Very Reluctant to Go to War'

U.S. Rep. Rush Holt visited Terrill Middle School on Constitution Day and spoke about government to 7th graders. Credits: John Mooney
U.S. Rep Rush Holt (D-NJ) met with Dr. Kevin Holloway, principal of Terril Middle School, prior to addressing 7th graders about topics related to American government.  The talk was followed by a Q&A session during which students asked about topics ranging from the current situation in the Middle East to the the level of stress in being a Congressman.  For the past four years, Holt's 12th District has included Scotch Plains and Fanwood. Prior to that, the towns were represented by Congressman Leonard Lance (R-NJ), whose district still covers a portion of Scotch Plains above Route 22. Credits: John Mooney

SCOTCH PLAINS-FANWOOD, NJ -- Marking Constitution Day, U.S. Rep Rush Holt (D-NJ) spoke to seventh-graders at Terrill Middle School about topics related to American government. The talk was followed by a Q&A session during which students asked about topics ranging from the current situation in the Middle East to the stress level of his job. 

Holt, who earned his  M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in physics from NYU, taught physics and public policy at the collegiate level before moving to the State Department's Office of Strategic Forces - Nuclear and Scientific Division. He referred to the U.S. Constitution as our country's "greatest invention" and likened it to "an operating manual" for our system of government.

"The reason it has lasted more than 200 years is that it is not too specific, isn't too rigid, and allows for flexibility to change the balance of power between the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of government," said Holt, who carries a copy of the Constitution with him wherever he goes. 

Sign Up for E-News

"It is based on the premise that all are created equal. That's why it's important.  It made possible the progress from which you benefit today," Holt told the students.

The congressman was hit with tough questions immediately after opening up the floor to questions. The first was, "What is your role in the ISIL/ISIS challenge?"

Holt responded by explaining that a group of people, which he categorized as evil, are calling themselves an "Islamic state."

"No religion is so brutal and disrespectful. They claim to want to set their own government. A lot of nations believe that it would be bad for a nation like that to exist," Holt replied, adding that under the Constitution, it is Congress that gets to declare war, although in recent history, the President has been driving the decision.

"The House is the branch that is closest to the people. Everyone has one representative who represents their district in Washington. I believe that a declaration of war should be made by Congress, rather than imposed by the President," Holt said. "I am really very reluctant to go to war. We have to ask whether it would make us safer. I don't think it would."

The eight-term congressman also fielded questions on the qualifications needed to run for office, the hardest thing about his job ("getting a sense of what 750,000 people think is in their best interest and then voting yes or no on issues such as whether to go to war"), what satisfies him most ("knowing that I can help someone each day"), and the differences between the Democratic and Republican parties.

"Republicans tend to talk about individual rights and being free from regulation, while Democrats talk more about community and believe in regulation," Holt stated. "If you all do your own thing, it becomes chaos... I bet some of your parents might disagree with me on that."

Holt was first elected to Congress in 1998, when his district included Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Hunterdon and Somerset counties. For the past four years, his 12th District has included Scotch Plains and Fanwood. Prior to that, the towns were represented by Congressman Leonard Lance (R-NJ), whose district still covers a portion of Scotch Plains north of Route 22. Holt arranged the visit after meeting recently with Dr. Kevin Holloway, principal of Terrill Middle School, in Washington, D.C., where he was recognized by elected officials after being named Principal of the Year in New Jersey.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Scotch Plains/Fanwood

Westfield Family Continues ‘Summer of Kindness’ with Infant Clothing Drive

July 12, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield mom and teacher Sara Liptack is continuing her family’s “Summer of Kindess” with an infant clothing for Furniture Assist, an organization in Springfield that helps formerly homeless people, veterans, the elderly, fire victims, refugees and people fleeing domestic violence.

“I said, ‘What’s the one thing you really ...

It's Not What You Are Eating, It's What's Eating You


Emotional eating can be described as episodes of binge-eating, grazing and/or eating when not hungry to soothe feelings. Emotional eaters have a pattern of eating to cope with stress, emotional conflicts and problems of daily life.

Emotional eating is eating for reasons other than hunger. Instead of physical symptoms initiating the eating, ...

Send a Message to Nick Scutari and His Cronies: Corruption Has No Place in Union County

July 19, 2018

Dear Editor:

The Union County Freeholders’ decision to appoint State Senator and newly-elected Union County Democratic Chairman, Nick Scutari’s chief of staff, Ed Oatman as County Manager smelled of corruption from the start.

To place a political consultant like Oatman in the role of overseeing 2,800 employees and running the day-to-day operations of the $500 million County ...

When to Dial 911: Scotch Plains Rescue Squad Tip of the Month

July 10, 2018

There are many times you should call 911. If you or someone around you is in true medical distress, such as experiencing difficulty breathing, chest pains, bleeding, possible stroke, or any other serious health issues, then 911 should be called as soon as possible. If there are wires down, fire, a crime in progress, or other dangerous conditions to people or property, call 911 ...

Pizza and Trivia at Scotch Plains Public Library on Weds, Aug. 8

July 21, 2018

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- ​On Wednesday, August 8 at 6:00 p.m., join the teen staff for a night of trivia and pizza!

Teams of four will compete to figure out who has the best musical knowledge. Questions will range from “Name that Tune” to “Who Wrote that Musical?” The winning team will receive prizes. Registration is required and will begin on Monday, July 30 at 11:00 ...

Upcoming Events


Mon, July 23, 8:00 PM

Scotch Plains Public Library, Scotch Plains

View the Night Sky at the Scotch Plains Public ...

Arts & Entertainment Education


Wed, July 25, 6:00 PM

JCC of Central NJ, Scotch Plains

The JCC’s Barracudas Swim Team Meet the Coaches ...



Wed, July 25, 7:00 PM


Downtown Westfield 5K & Pizza Extravaganza