It’s generally not too much to ask that major party presidential candidates know how many Supreme Court justices there are. Alas, Rick Perry, who’s already struggled to be coherent on a wide range of issues, flubbed this one, too.

YouTube video

After trying to argue that private schools should legally able to promote religion — they already can — the oft-confused Texas governor made the case for state-sponsored religion in public schools. Here’s the quote for those who can’t watch clips from your work computers:

“The independent school boards that oversee those [public schools] should make the decisions, not the government. Again, the idea that we have to be so politically correct that there’s one family that says, ‘Listen, I don’t want my child,’ then that child ought to have the freedom to be, you know, can sit over there and play tic-tac-toe or what have you.

“But the issue is that for Washington to tell a local school district that you cannot have a prayer and a time of prayer in that school, I think is offensive to most Americans. I trust the people of the states to make those decisions. I trust those independent school districts to make those decisions better than eight unelected and frankly unaccountable judges.”

Let’s count the errors of fact and judgment, because this a doozy.

1. There are nine Supreme Court justices, not eight.

2. When public school boards make policy decisions affecting public schools, that is “the government.” It may not be the federal government, but Perry is still calling for government officials — rather than families — to intervene in the religious upbringing of children.

3. Playing tic-tac-toe is very hard for one person to do by himself or herself.

4. In the United States, we don’t make decisions about religious liberty based on majority rule or popularity contests. Here’s a question for Perry to ponder: if an evangelical Christian family sent their daughter to a public school in predominantly Muslim neighborhood, would Perry want her to sit in a corner playing tic-tac-toe while the rest of the class prayed towards Mecca, or would he want the public school to remain religiously neutral?

In the same interview, Perry proceeded to forget Justice Sotomayor’s name.

I’d swear this guy is getting dumber as the campaign progresses.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.