Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Senate Candidate O'Donnell Flunks The First Amendment

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | October 22, 2010 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: Christine O'Donnell, Delaware, Senate, separation of church and state

As a college professor, I am contractually obligated to bemoan the state of our educational system today, but this one takes the cake.

When United States Senate candidates don't know what the First Amendment says, we really need to think about the dumbing down of America. She also didn't remember the 14th Amendment or the 16th Amendment. Now, lots of us don't remember those either, but, then again, we're not saying we're qualified to be U.S. Senators.

Of course, one could defend her by saying that she meant only that the specific words "separation of church and state" do not appear in the Constitution. But that's like saying conservation of energy isn't in the first law of thermodynamics. True, it isn't formally stated like that, but that's what it means.

If "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" doesn't mean separation of church and state, then what does it mean?

If there were some credible way to interpret the First Amendment without separation of church and state, I'd like to hear it.

Video after the jump.

In a debate this week at Widener University Law School, Republican U.S. Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell of Delaware said there's no problem with Biblical teachings in the science classroom.

"Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?" O'Donnell asked. "You're telling me the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?"

O'Donnell's campaign manager later issued a statement saying that the words "separation of church and state" do not appear in the Constitution.

Quo vadis, anyone? Here's the video, starting with the first gaffe:

The full story from the ABA Journal is here. Above The Law has a good post as well.


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I think it's great when a politician embarrasses herself. It's actually effective.

Over heard in the background audio "oh my god! is she that ignorant?"

Yes, she is that ignorant.

For me to graduate High School I had to pass a very hard series of tests that showed that I not only knew the entire US Constitution but the Bill of Rights and the State Constitution as well.

I guess she just failed the practical test. I really hope she doesn't win, we have enough ingornance running rampant now we don't need another no-nothing Senator running around.

I am willing to concede the point O'Donnell is not dumber than box of rocks by offering the following. In an attempt to explain how she believes that there is nothing in the Bill of Rights clearly stating separation of Church and State, or the several Supreme Court Decisions that have pretty clearly defined it, as well as the rest of the Amendments she misplaced mentally I offer the following few explanations.

One she may be like some of the Ultra-Right which wishes to re-write that part of the Constitution while also claiming to be in support of going back to the Constitution. Basically like little children who stick their fingers in their ears and make noises so they do not wish hear what you are saying. But of course always hear when they are asked if they want Ice Creme or candy.

She could be in actuality a giant robot and her controller dropped the remote or failed to check the batteries, causing her to recite statements from her stupid file instead of repeating what the person operating her typed into the controller.

She could in actuality be an Alien life form that only fell upon the Earth recently that took over the body of the former Satanic Alter sex pot and therefore is not fully aware of the Constitution in their attempt to take over the United States first and then the world.

The other possible explanation is of course she is dumber than a box of rocks when it comes to anything to do with the rule of Law. That she was selected to run for Senate, using the same criteria as used to construct Pop Music stars based not so much on the talent but on if they look good on camera and can hit their marks on stage most of the time. After all it works for many in the Music Industry as well as Sarah Palin, so why not use the same tactics on a larger scale?

I will end this by saying the dumbing down of America will no longer be a theory but fact if we see O'Donnell win and Palin become President in two years. In point of fact the dumbing down theory gained a great deal of evidence toward proving it when the country kept George W. Bush in for Eight years. One only need to watch the movie Idiocracy to see the future in that case.

I love coming back on Creationists on the "theory" crap. I ask them if they are also planning on banning calculus books? They're loaded with theories. There is the Big Bang theory, and the theory of how dinosaurs died. There are electrical theories, mechanical theories, gravitational theories and musical theories. When Bush was President, he went to war in Iraq on the theory that they had weapons of mass destruction. The world is loaded with theories. Why aren't they jumping on any of them? Maybe they just don't know how to multitask, or they have a one-track mind.

It's my theory that the Tea Party shares only one brain between all of them and they haven't given Christine O'Donnell her chance to use it yet.

They've been re-writing the Constitution for a while now since they know that if they can just persuade people to buy their interpretation it's as good as amended. Remember when people generally thought that the Second Amendment referred to a "well-regulated militia" because it said those words in it?

Ann Coulter used to have a trick she'd run every now and then, saying that the Establishment Clause did not apply to the states or the executive because it says "Congress" in it. And she's a graduate of Cornell Law.

I guess this all comes down to which team you're in, as Jon Stewart described: Team Evil or Team Stupid. The former believe that conservative lies are a result of evil (because no one could be that stupid), the latter see the results of stupid (because no one could be that evil).

Can we deport her? She knows less than many barely literate immigrants have to know when getting into this country.

If she were a smart cookie, she could have said something simpler like "no establishment" is not exactly "separation" but even that's weak. The Thomas Jefferson - writer's intent/interpretation has been used since the 1800's and quoted in case after case by a wide variety of judges so again, fail.

Alex,
Do you know what a militia is, and why the right to keep (have) and bear (carry) arms was reserved to "the people," or are you a new member of Team Stupid?
It's everybody's Constitution. All of it.

This is what they teach in the Bible belt. I've had many arguments with relatively intelligent people about separation of Church and State. They say those exact words aren't in there and that "establishment of religion" only forbids Congress from establishing a state-run religion. They're not stupid, they just have an entirely different set of facts.

Laura Bogue | October 25, 2010 7:07 AM

I have a general question. If the Constitution is the bible for the way this country is supposed to act, why is it open to interpretation? It is spelled out in black and white what is allowed and what isn't and it clearly states that "Congress shall make no laws recognizing any religion", or thereabouts. It makes no mention of states rights. States have the right to recognizes and enforce there own laws, ie. Gay marriage bans, anti employment equality. She had a point when she asked about separation of church and state. The constitution makes no mention of separation of church and state. It only forbids CONGRESS from recognizing and giving preferential treatment to any religion. So where is she wrong?

Thanks for writing in, Laura. She's wrong because the First Amendment has been incorporated to the states under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment of 1868. You are correct that the First Amendment specifies Congress. That is because the Bill of Rights, by its terms, only applied as against the federal government. In the 1920's or so, however, the Supreme Court began to recognize that the 14th Amendment was intended to apply the Bill of Rights to the States. The 14th Amendment says "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." "Due process," a centuries-old legal phrase, means more than just a fair trial. It means that all legal restrictions must be fair and proper, and that includes following the Bill of Rights.

So you are correct that the First Amendment, by its terms, applies only to the federal government. However, the Fourteenth Amendment applies the First to the States.