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Relax, Christine O'Donnell! Nobody knows the First Amendment.

"Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?" -- Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell's question during a debate with Democratic challenger Chris Coons.

Christine O'Donnell doesn't know that the Constitution guarantees the separation of church and state.

Who does? Christine explicitly said she didn't bring her Constitution with her! That ought to be enough.

Why taunt her? Instead of pretending we know what the Constitution says and are indignant that she doesn't, let's fess up.

I studied history for years, so I know that our nation was founded by Sacagawea. Also, Columbus Day is a holiday where we celebrate that city that isn't Dayton, because it doesn't get enough love!

When it comes to the Constitution, I know that if someone ever approaches me and suggests that I'm a "loose constructionist," I'm supposed to throw my drink in his face and say "Maybe your mother was, but I'm not that kind of girl!" Sometimes, it makes sense!

And when it comes to knowing my amendments? On Law and Order, people always say "I'm pleading the fifth," so I bet the Fifth Amendment is the amendment where Mariska Hargitay looks steely and thinks about alcoholism.

There's some amendment that has to do with cruel and unusual punishment, probably saying something along the lines of "absolutely fine, as long as you feel somewhat convinced he's a terrorist." I bet that's the one they used to open Guantanamo!

I don't know what the Nineteenth Amendment is, but I have a bad feeling about it.

If I ever become a lawyer, I plan to tell my clients to "use the Fourth" a lot, then laugh mysteriously.

I went to a bar once called the Twenty First amendment, so I am fairly convinced that the Twenty First Amendment had something to do with bars. Or maybe that was the Eleventh Amendment. I don't remember that evening very well. Maybe Christine O'Donnell's been there.

And maybe it's not just me. A survey on the First Amendment conducted throughout high schools found that students don't know the rights the First Amendment guarantees -- and when it was explained to them, more than one in three felt it went too far.

So instead of jumping on Christine, maybe we should take a look at ourselves.

Like she says, "I'm you."

By Alexandra Petri  | October 19, 2010; 11:41 AM ET
Tags:  Alexandra Petri  
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Comments

Chris Coons knew the answer, what does that say about him?

And the GOP would like nothing more than HS students being dumb as rocks - how else would people like Christine O'Donnell get elected, let alone be given the time of day?

Tea Party: Bringing Dumb since 2009

Posted by: Slipjac | October 19, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

nothing to really joke about. Everyone knows what the 2nd amendment is. If someone doesn't know the first amendment lets kick them out of the country.

Posted by: bwintersx | October 19, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

You are not me, Christine O'Donnell is not me, and I am neither of you. You ask who knows that the Constitution mandates separation of church and state. ME! I do. Because I received a public education in the United States that included history and social studies.

My god, Petri, nationalized Americans know more about our Constitution than you do. But then, they're required to know it, aren't they? You're not and you don't even have the ambition to learn about it.

Slipjac was right: you're living proof that the tea party is dumbing down Americans.

Posted by: dastubbs | October 19, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Don't you know that Teabaggers are experts in the Constitution, which was handed down by Baby Jesus to George Jesus Washington on Christmas.

It says this is a Christian nation of self-sufficient White people on Social Security and Medicare who don't need no damn govermint telling them what to do, and don't give no money to lazy blacks.

Every Teabagger knows it, now you do too.

Posted by: ottoparts | October 19, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I am going to abandon my efforts to build a weather machine and focus on developing a surgery to correct a morbid inability to recognize satire. Perhaps I'll begin with a lobotomy....

Posted by: jmsdc | October 19, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

dastubbs, you need to look up sarcasm in the dictionary.....

Posted by: rsingh182 | October 19, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Not a big deal. I mean it's only one of our countries founding ideals. But hey also long as it promotes christianity and leaves out Muslims. I'm cool with it! GO TEABAGGERS!

Posted by: wynnebs | October 19, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Really.

And Ms. O'Donnell probably just thinks the 13th Amendment outlaws unlucky numbers and broken mirrors.

Posted by: rogied25 | October 19, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Since when did being willfully ignorant become something to be proud of? Sure I may not know all of the constitution but if I were to even think of running for one of the highest public offices in the country I would study my butt off. There is simply no excuse for not knowing. It really isn't that long. Also there is this thing called the internet which allows one to quickly rapidly obtain the information required.

Here lets give it a go....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_amendments_to_the_United_States_Constitution

That took all of 30 seconds and I didn't even spell constitution correctly when searching.

Posted by: bebemaster | October 19, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

"I am going to abandon my efforts to build a weather machine and focus on developing a surgery to correct a morbid inability to recognize satire. Perhaps I'll begin with a lobotomy...."

Posted by: jmsdc | October 19, 2010 1:34 PM

You're building a weather machine!?

Posted by: silentandeep | October 19, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

The constitution takes fifteen minutes to read (or maybe an hour and half, depending). It has a few big words in it, but if you can work a dictionary you might be able to figure them out. Its not rocket surgery, you know...

Posted by: underhill | October 19, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

dastubbs wrote: "You ask who knows that the Constitution mandates separation of church and state. ME! I do. Because I received a public education in the United States that included history and social studies."

Actually, exactly what the Constitution "mandates" in terms of religion in the public square has been and will be a source of much debate. There is tension between the establishment clause and the free excercise clause.

Posted by: r_g_poole | October 19, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

We get it, O'Donnell is a dummy.

Does that excuse a column that would be a disappointment from a C student in freshman composition? Here is a writing tip for your next effort: if you find yourself using 'ironic' exclamation points to emphasize your wit, you are boring people.

Posted by: PigSkin | October 19, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

"And maybe it's not just me. A survey on the First Amendment conducted throughout high schools found that students don't know the rights the First Amendment guarantees -- and when it was explained to them,"

AND YOUR POINT IS....o'DONNELL IS NO DUMBER THAN A TYPICAL HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT? THAT'S REASSURING!

Posted by: MotSegye1 | October 19, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

We still expect more from our leaders. If we just elect ignorants or incompetents to office, then we are really in trouble.

Posted by: swingwing | October 19, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Where would the Republican party be with out the dumb and the ignorant in this country ? They would be SOL and out of luck , not even able to compete . No wonder they promote the worship of the ultra dumb , the ignorant and the lunatics , Palin , Angle , O'Donnell , Bachman , Buch , Beck , LOL ! What more can I say ? Pretty obvious why they want to do away with the public school system , refuse to fund education and put a college education out of reach for most Americans ! If the population were to become educated , informed and half way intelligent and if they actually started using their brains , whoooaaaa ! Bad news for the Republican party !

Posted by: Koom | October 19, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I usually enjoy Ms. Petri's columns, but she completely missed the point on this one. Christine O'Donnell was correct when she stated that the phrase "separation of church and state" doesn't appear in the U.S. Constitution. That's a poetic way of explaining the combined effect of the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause.

Here's the problem for O'Donnell: She didn't know that the Establishment Clause is in the U.S. Constitution. When Coons quoted the Establishment Clause to her during the debate, O'Donnell responded: "You're telling me that's in the Constitution?"

This from a U.S. Senate candidate whose self-professed "Number One" qualification is a one-week course in Constitutional Government. Tragically funny.

Posted by: QuiteAlarmed | October 19, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if she thinks God would let her into heaven if she didn't know/obey the first commandment?

Posted by: christ-opher | October 19, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Some people are completely immune from satire. Apparently some of those same people also like to make comments on the Internet.

Posted by: scooper1976 | October 19, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans are counting on the votes of riled-up angry White evangelical racists, who will soon be running the country again and resuming their grand project of destroying it.

Posted by: ottoparts | October 19, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure what's more stunning. That one Christine O'Donnell doesn't know the 1st amendment or you implication that no one knows what it is.

The 1st amendment is not some obscure part of the Constitution that's barely mentioned. It's not like the 26th amendment that pretty much no one has mentioned since 1971.

And lest we not forget this is the same Christine O'Donnell who touts her fellowship in Constitutional Government from the Claremont Institute in Claremont, CA.

Really? A fellowship in Constitutional Government and she doesn't know what's in the 1st amendment?

Posted by: James10 | October 19, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Since they banned me over in the religious section of the paper, I'll post here. Don't be angry with Ms. O'Donnell. She is mentally challenged and deserves pity. Direct your anger to the GOP electorate of Delaware for nominating someone such as this to the U.S. Senate!

Posted by: johng1 | October 19, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

"So instead of jumping on Christine..."

Oh, and here I thought you referred to her as a joke candidate and called her "that woman from Delaware...a witch" in your last blog post...from yesterday.

I would just be generally embarrassed by the content of this blog post if I were the author.

Do you think showcasing your own ignorance enhances your credibility with readers? Next time, maybe interview a few folks to showcase how little people know about the constitution. I know that journalists don't really do much investigating these days, but you do work for the Post after all...

Posted by: jamesschu3 | October 19, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

They want to "take back" America! Yeah, Radical Christianist extremists want to take it back to the biblical age.

Stone adulterers, impose kosher dietary restrictions, etc. Not all that different from Sharia Law. It's all in The Bible, it's the "word of God". No ifs, ands or buts. "God's Law" must prevail!! Vote TEA party, Vote your God on election day!!!!!

Why do Republicans hate America and the Constitution??

Posted by: thebobbob | October 19, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

No. O'Donnell needs to be outed for ignorance. She is the one running for a senate seat.
People can say what they will about members of the party they dislike, but few can honestly say that senators are not very sharp people and who at least aspire to a nuanced understanding of the Constitution.
Being a senator is not a joke.
O'Donnell is.

Posted by: mw-bkly | October 19, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I hope some of you guys know that this is a satirical article...

Posted by: anguy018 | October 19, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I'd be willing to cut her some slack, but her political group claims to be constitutional experts, don't they? If you live by the sword, don't you die by the sword? If the Cons would back down off their high horse, and behave more civilly, perhaps others would not jump all over them for their failures.

Posted by: samsara15 | October 19, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Everyone seems to be ignoring the fact that she snidely insulted her opponent for not knowing the Constitution before this came up. It's not just what she says, but it's her demeanor that is offensive to me. And I think she got it from Sarah P: Know little. Be nasty. Keep talking.

Posted by: JoninNE | October 19, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Christine O'Donnell questioned where in the constitution is separation of church and state. She was correct in her statement. The constitution does not say the separation of church and state. Coons is wrong.
Coons could not identify the five freedoms in the First Amendment.

Posted by: Steve863 | October 19, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

I know the 1st Amendment. And while the person writing this blog thinks it's cute to be ignorant, I expect better knowledge from candidates like O'Donnell who campaign on adherence to the Constitution.

Btw, was that crack about the 19th Amendment supposed to be funny? I take it that's from the collected wit and humor of Joe Miller.

Posted by: cassandra9 | October 19, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe someone can be so dump that she takes pride in it. And she is a columnist for the Washington Post? You are the one contributing to ignorance by telling Americans to take pride it it. Ms. Petri should consider another job. Really.

Posted by: rockmd | October 19, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

The Constitution.... novel document... There's even an app for that! Ms. O'Donnell should load that on her iPhone and maybe she'd learn something!

Posted by: fisherg | October 19, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

The Constitution does not require the separation of the church and state. Nowwhere. The fact that the audience gasps, means that our law students are a bunch of idiots. She was trying to get him to say that the first amendment does require that and he did. He is wrong and so is anyone that says otherwise.

Posted by: gsms69 | October 19, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

You're correct, Christine O'Donnell has fused herself with the quote "I'm you"

The problem that explodes on the big screen when embarking on that self reflective journey you've suggested is that I'm not running for a seat on the US Senate.

Posted by: rplummer1 | October 19, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Here's a hint to everyone who is outraged at the author: IT WAS SATIRE! "I don't know what the Nineteenth Amendment is, but I have a bad feeling about it." Get it? Alexandra Petri (a woman) is pretending to be ignorantly against the 19th Amendment (women's suffrage).

In my opinion, her point was that many who look down on O'Donnell for not understanding the Establishment Clause are ignorant of many of the other amendments. I doubt she's defending O'Donnell's blatant ignorance, but rather pointing out that the vast majority of the American public (myself included) could benefit from a better education regarding the Constitution.

Posted by: spfjr | October 19, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

FACT: Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to the Connecticut Danbury Baptist Association in which he mentioned the "SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE" to assure them of their religious rights.

FACT: The phrase, nor the concept as it is incorrectly understood in contemporary society, is nowhere to be found in the constitution.

Don't law students study history anymore? Or do they just bash and name call anyone who doesn't agree with their liberal, twisted interpretation (deconstruction) of the Constitution?!?!?!?

Posted by: sjsmith3 | October 19, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Actually, you're all dunces. O'Donnell was in reality incredulous that the doofus Coons thought that separation of church and state WAS in the Constitution or even the 1st Amendment. IT IS NOT THERE. Look it up for yourself and show me where it says that. It DOES say that Congress shall not establish a religion, but it doesn't say that religion doesn't belong. Get your facts straight. Oh, and look in the mirror and regurgitate all of your insane comments. Get a spoon. Reingest. You see, you were talking about yourselves all along! HAHAHA!!!

Posted by: teabagger69 | October 19, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Isn't Coons up by 20 points in this election?

Isn't there a closer election the media could focus on?

The only reason this is "news" is because O'Donnell is a "tea party favorite" - whatever that implies.

Posted by: MDLaxer | October 19, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

The Constitution *also* doesn't say we can't burn witches at the stake, does it?

Posted by: james0tucson | October 19, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Portion of an essay on the Constitution

One of the clear strengths of the U.S. Constitution is its flexibility--this is a document that has been designed to evolve and grow over time in order to meet changed circumstances and new perspectives in society. The American system from the first was seen as something that would be organic rather than static and that would empower the people to make changes as they perceived a need to do so. In keeping with this idea of evolution, the founding Fathers provided for a judicial body, the U.S. Supreme Court, to interpret the meaning of and application of the Constitution. Over the course of the last two centuries, the Supreme Court has made numerous interpretations and reinterpretations of the Constitution, with the philosophy of the judges tending between two poles. On the one hand is a belief in the meaning placed in the Constitution by the Founding Fathers, a meaning often referred to as "original intent." Under this doctrine, cases are to be decided based on what the Founding Fathers meant at the time of the writing of the Constitution. An opposite view would hold that the interpretation of the Constitution should be made more on the basis of present circumstances and needs. This second approach need not ignore original intent, but it does not give it the same weight as the more conservative judges. How this issue is argued will be considered in terms of applications to the Fourth Amendment, showing finally that strict adherence to "original intent" actually fails flexibility of the constitution.

lotsofessays.com

Posted by: JAH3 | October 19, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Actually, you're all dunces. O'Donnell was in reality incredulous that the doofus Coons thought that separation of church and state WAS in the Constitution or even the 1st Amendment. IT IS NOT THERE. Look it up for yourself and show me where it says that. It DOES say that Congress shall not establish a religion, but it doesn't say that religion doesn't belong. Get your facts straight. Oh, and look in the mirror and regurgitate all of your insane comments. Get a spoon. Reingest. You see, you were talking about yourselves all along! HAHAHA!!!

Posted by: teabagger69
------------------------------------------
All the spin you put in this post makes me want to regurgitate. I'm so dizzy!

The fact is that O'Donnell does not know the Constitution. She could only identify one of the three or four amendments the reporter referred to in his question. Do most Americans know all the amendments of the Constitution? Probably not? Should people running for political office know the Constitution like the back of their hands? Hell to the yes!

Posted by: binaryboy | October 19, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

What I am most interested in is how Sarah Palin will handle this since she supported her and is basically the reason she received the nomination. When she loses (because this basically seals it), that will have an impact on Palin's credibility. Not that I have any respect for Palin, but I do give her credit enough to realize she may have really stepped in it with ODonnell...

Posted by: rosefarm1 | October 19, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I am hoping that your piece is a sarcastic attempt to further ridicule the stupid Neanderthal from Delaware, Christine O’Donnell. She should be in a home for severally mentally retarded or slow, or whatever the correct word is. You don't have to be a Constitutional scholar to know the Establishment Clause, especially if you're arguing against it. Your article makes my skin crawl because it’s just the sort of ignorance that makes people think that it’s okay to hire someone who is completely unqualified to be a Senator. Just imagine… that idiot would be sworn to protect the Constitution and she doesn't even know what the First Amendment is...WTF is going on in this country. I mean seriously...WHAT IS HAPPENING?

Posted by: draywilliams | October 19, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Separation of state and church refers to separation of government decisions from church decisions, but nothing can separate man from his beliefs and conscious desires, nor from his faith that would guide his/her actions. Even to ensure freedom of religion, government might be called upon to act and could not, then, remain separate from religion.

It appears that it is not only the first amendment that Americans have difficulty with. Some are unable to distinguish between the 14th amendment that deals with who is a citizen, and not with who is a natural born citizen, that is covered in the Second Amendment. Many do not appear to be able to make the distinction betwen "native born"--born on American soil, and being under the jurisdiction of America; and "natural born"--born to parents who are both Americans whether native or naturalized. The only one that appears to be understood is naturalized citizens, but this appears to be sometimes confused with "illegal aliens".

Posted by: CalP | October 19, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Here's the oath of office. So when exactly is it that O'Donnell would be expected to learn the Constitution?

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God."

Posted by: gottabeanon1 | October 19, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

I am sorry, but this writer is not funny. She is never funny. Reading her is like watching a bad audition. She has great material and we should all be laughing, but her columns are always clunkers. Can't WAPO do better?

Posted by: naranja | October 19, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

I expect senators to know a little more about the Constitution than high school students.

Posted by: Dadrick | October 19, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

gsms69 and teabagger69 either can't read or just like to make s_it up. Also, whats the obsession with the number 69?

The separation of church and state is THE TERM WE USE TO DESCRIBE THE MEANING OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT. Yes the words "separation of church and state" are not in the constitution. But most Americans can read.

It's like saying nowhere in the ten commandments does it say you can't screw someone else's wife.

IDIOTS, complete idiots.

Posted by: strictly_liberal | October 19, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

note to the clowns in here claiming that O'Donnell was right. Jefferson is the one who described his own drafting of the establishment and free exercise clauses as creating a separation of church and state. Everyone who knows any constitutional law refers to those two clauses with the "separation" shorthand.

But like several have noted, it's not that she claimed that separation of church and state isn't literally in the constitution - the actual meaning of the free exercise and establishment clauses isn't that simple - it's that when Coons recited the ACTUAL TEXT of the establishment clause, she didn't recognize it. That's what made the audience gasp and then snicker.

Posted by: JoeT1 | October 19, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Petri, you could not be more wrong, O'Donnell SHOULD know the first amendment, it's her duty if she is running for a political office that is bound by the constitution. The argument made in this article is an equivalent of justifying a doctor not knowing what high blood pressure is. I don't think there is any justification for a senate candidate not knowing the first amendment. Such blatant ignorance is NOT okay and it will never be excusable.
And as for the her saying "I'm like you," she's nothing like me and I hope that I will NEVER be anything like her and revel in ignorance.

Posted by: nikki1362 | October 19, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I too hope this article was done tongue in cheek, and perhaps I'm old enough to remember when they taught us about the Constitution, as well as the Declaration of Independence, and the Gettysburg Address, as well as other documents.

They didn't require we memorize it as we did the Gettysburg Address but we were given classes on the document, what it contained and what it meant; and we were taught that some parts might be interpreted in different ways by different people, and that we, ourselves, might be able to read different things into such documents. However, there's a difference between you and me reading and interpreting the Constitution, and persons who place themselves in a position in which they're asking us to support them in their bid to make laws subject to the Constitution. I expect those that want to represent me to be more knowledgeable than I am. I don't want the guy next door flying an airplane because he once went up in a crop duster, or my brother-in-law (as smart as he says he is on everything, and who's handy with a ladder and a hammer) to do surgery because he once broke his wrist, or the lady next door running Consolidated Edison because she has electricity in hour house. I expect a little in the way of qualifications. And I expect those that want to make laws and represent me at the highest levels of government, to know a little . It's not too much for me to expect someone running for the House of Representatives or the Senate to understand what their responsibilities and obligations are, or the governing document of the country. Is it?

dungarees@gmail.com

Posted by: Dungarees | October 19, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

The Constitution *also* doesn't say we can't burn witches at the stake, does it?

-----------------------------------
FYI - Back in 1692 we hanged convicted witches in Salem (now Andover) (and "pressed" a suspected witch); never burned a one!

Posted by: shadowmagician | October 19, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

The tea party offers us the best and the brightest, a candidate for the senate with little or no knowledge of the constitution another that claims she has been mistaken for an Asian and another that has his private gestapo detain you and put you in handcuffs if he doesn't approve of your questions. What a laughingstock our political system has become.

Posted by: eddie1247 | October 19, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Steve863:
There are 6 rights in the First Amendment, not 5. Freedom from religion (the establishment clause), freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, right to assemble, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Posted by: boyyourenosey | October 19, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I feel like this is an article from the Bayside High School news paper. So JV

Posted by: wynnebs | October 19, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Separation of church and state should mean that we separate the churches from the states and toss them into the oceans.

Posted by: johng1 | October 19, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm appalled with this article. Everyone should know the first amendment, and we've decided that as a population by mandating a course in american government to graduate high school. Besides, aren't the tear partiers the ones that are all gung-ho about going back to what our founding fathers directly said? Shouldn't they be the ones you could count on to know these things backward and forward?

No one knows the first amendment? What a ridiculous statement. Come on everyone, liberal sand conservatives. This cannot be happening. just wow.

Posted by: yomamasallama | October 19, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

The Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment comes up every Christmas when a municipality wants to put up a Nativity Scene in front of City Hall, when government offices close for Christmas and Easter; moreover, more recently, when the Pledge of Alligence invokes "one nation under God". If O'Donnell or anyone else has never even heard of these legal squabbles, they have been living in a cave and should not be involved in leading this country...common sense or not.

Posted by: adelef_2000 | October 19, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the giggle. Christine is me.... smart, talented and so beautiful....and overly modest. Coons is an idiot. if he can't ready and comprehend the first amendment then how in the world will he understand obamacare when it's time to vote it out? Good Luck Christine!!

Posted by: crolfe | October 19, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

I propose changing the line "under God" in Pledge of Allegiance to "under the watchful eye of Aqua Buddha."

Posted by: johng1 | October 19, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Oh boy. This just made my whole week. Has it really gotten to this low? Can Fox sign her up before her election?

Posted by: elguapopelirojo | October 19, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

O'Donnell is yet another of a list of tea party whack jobs. People, you need to make sure you get out and vote. Whether Republican or Democrat, if these nutcases get in offices, can you imagine the chaos?

Posted by: sassafrasnewport | October 19, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

You've got my vote, as long as stand with witches too

Posted by: 44fx2901 | October 19, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

You libs are so Smart.

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Where does it guarantee the separation of Church and state??????

What kind of law school was this???

Maybe O'Donnell is just smarter than they are, and most of you.

Posted by: steve-davis | October 19, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

There are 300+ million people in this country and only 100 can have a seat in the Senate. I don't think it is too much to ask that someone seeking a Senate seat has a working knowledge of the document that is the basis for her would be responsibilities. A candidate who proudly displays such ignorance of the Constitution is profoundly irresponsible. And I cannot say much more for anyone who would vote for her.

Posted by: tfspa | October 19, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

"Like she says, "I'm you.""

I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g'joob g'goo goo g'joob.

Posted by: 44fx2901 | October 19, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

You ain't me, babe, no no no, you ain't me, babe

Posted by: johng1 | October 19, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

O'Donnell's question "where is the separation of church and state in the Constitution?" IS A VALID QUESTION, "separation of church and state" is not in the Constitution. The 1st Amendment states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." The term "separation of church and state" comes from Thomas Jefferson's “Wall of Separation” letter, and not the Constitution.

Jefferson's "Wall of Separation" letter states: "...I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."

Coons' claim that "church and state" are in the Constitution is glaringly fallacious! O’Donnell’s challenge was a salient. Her emphatic proclamation, repeated 3 times was never once addressed accordingly by Coons. When this law school audience laughed, it showed little understanding of the Constitution and reflects badly on Widener University Law School in Wilmington.

Coons could not name the five freedoms of the 1st Amendment, a problematic aspect of Democrats. O'Donnell schooled Coons. Delaware's Looney Tune is Coons!

Posted by: POST-PIRATE | October 19, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm boycotting tea.

Posted by: cookie714 | October 19, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Where does it guarantee the separation of Church and state??????
Posted by: steve-davis
----

I'm thinking this is either a joke or proof that someone who would vote for such a person truly is not only irresponsible but also deficient in basic English language skills.

Posted by: tfspa | October 19, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

The Spin is on, to wit: "Coons could not name the five freedoms of the 1st Amendment, a problematic aspect of Democrats. O'Donnell schooled Coons. Delaware's Looney Tune is Coons!"

Now, for our next twist of reality, Cristine O'Donnell wins Nobel Prize in Physics.

Posted by: 44fx2901 | October 19, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell is absolutely correct. Nowhere in the 1st amendment or anywhere else in the U.S. Constitution does it state that there is to be a "The Separation Of Church And State". Period. No arguements can be made to the contrary; any attempt is purely silly.
"The Separation of Church And State" idea is an interpretation. Yes folks, an INTERPRETATION, plain and simple.
The 1st amendment actually says: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" and it was written as a reaction to the Church of England, being established as the official church of England and some of the colonies." Our founding fathers did not want the government to select and dictate a particular religion that "We The People" had to follow. It was not made to keep the 10 Commandments off government lawns, keep kids from praying in school, or have "In God We Trust" on government buildings. None of these forces anyone to to join or be a member of anything. Sheezsh - it's ok to be a liberal but its silly to think that allows INTERPRETATIONS to become fact. Yes Miss O'Donnell YOU WERE ABSOLUTELY CORRECT !

Posted by: 484moose | October 19, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Us law students (and former law students) are taught the constitution by both reading it and by reading Court interpretations. The concept of the separation of church and state is that the states and federal government cannot establish a religion for the USA. In other words, people can freely practice religion (free exercise) and be free from the government imposing a national religion (the establishment clause). No the phrase "separation of church and state" is no where explicitly in the constitution. However, that is exactly what the Founders intended (for you orgininalists) and Court cases have interpreted. So anyone who would read the constitution strictly in a literal fashion is completely ignorant and stuck in the days when certain members of society were considered only 3/5 of a person.

Posted by: cartoongal | October 19, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Instead of goofy hats with tea bags hanging off of them these people should be wearing dunce caps . If Tea baggers were the best mankind could do the wheel would not have been invented yet , at best we'd still be using outhouses and candle light .

Posted by: Koom | October 19, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

@484moose: "Our founding fathers did not want the government to select and dictate a particular religion that "We The People" had to follow."

Exactly. And that concept is known in shorthand as the "separation of Church and state." It's what the First Amendment protects. O'Donnell wasn't right, she didn't make a good point, and she's not knowledgeable on this issue. Anyone who tries to defend her is an idiot.

Posted by: simpleton1 | October 19, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

By the way, by a government putting the 10 Commandments on government property or by mandating prayer in school, that would be government establishing a religion. Remember, some people do not have religions at all (which they are constitutionally allowed to) and others practice non-Western religions that do not subscribes to the 10 Commandments or the idea of a one-diety system. So your arguments that say that the constitution doesn't prohibit such things to be placed on government property and entrenched in government government-run schools is wrong: It is prohibited by the establishment clause. Again, don't pretend to understand something you don't. It is not an interpretation; that is the literal application of the words of the constitution.

Posted by: cartoongal | October 19, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I wonder, is 3/5's of a person or silly worse?

When I see the word "interpretation" I think of the word "but" which is a slick word that when used negates everything written in before it.

"Interpretation" has been the main tool used by religious fanatics to justify saying and doing whatever they please by so called quoting from religious holy books. Silly and tragic.

Posted by: 484moose | October 19, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I think they ought throw stupid people into that prison at Guantanamera.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 19, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Some of us are getting a little personal here. "Idiots" and "3/5" of a person. These kind of comments don't reflect on me but on their writer. Come on, talk about the issues, don't be silly!
By the way the 10 Commandments on governmnet property doesn't in anyway "make" someone follow them [however, religious or not they are pretty good advise]. It is kind of like if there is a program on TV [the government controls the licenses] you don't like or don't believe in, don't whine, just turn the #$%@&! thing off!

Posted by: 484moose | October 19, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

BTW, is Mariska Hargitay a senator or a congressperson?

I'm also firmly opposed to gay going steady, because it is clearly a gateway commitment to gay marriage.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 19, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Funny article. As others have pointed out, I'm appalled at some people's general inability to recognize satire!

Posted by: mcqueary | October 19, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

I think it's a shame the foundling fathers didn't have parents like the rest of us.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 19, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

We should take a look at ourselves because of Christine O'Donnell? Maybe the Delaware Republicans should take a look at themselves and explain how it is that they offered up for the United States Senate someone so clearly seeking a job over her head.

Posted by: Robert36 | October 19, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

The amendment prohibits the making of any law "respecting an establishment of religion", impeding the free exercise of religion, infringing on the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.
NOWHERE IN THE CONSTITUTION ARE THE WORDS "SEPERATION OF CHURCH AND STATE"
In my humble opinion the purpose of first amendment was to protect religion from government, not the other way around. It was clear by the writings of the founding fathers that they embraced religiion and "the free excerise thereof."

Posted by: Sixpack9 | October 19, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

"Where does it guarantee the separation of Church and state??????"

The first sixteen words separate religion from government and vice-versa.

The people have an inalienable right to be free of any religion being imposed upon them by the state, and an inalienable right to freely exercise their religion without interference from the government, and the First Amendment serves to protect these inalienable rights by making Constitutional Rights to ensure that government will not abridge those inalienable rights.

The rights protected by the First Amendment exist regardless of the Constitution or any other instrument of man -- the First Amendment is an affirmation that these rights will not be abridged by the government of the United States.

This only becomes difficult to understand if you believe either that the rights do not exist, or that government should be allowed to abridge them. If there was a sect of any religion other than mainstream Christianity who was challenging the establishment clause (say there was a region that was predominately Muslim whose elected representatives tried to bend either the establishment or the exercise clauses) the same people who don't find a separation of church and state in the Constitution would be howling over it.

They want separation of *other religions besides particular sects of Christianity* from government, but they want their own religion to be exempt somehow.

Posted by: james0tucson | October 19, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell is absolutely correct. Nowhere in the 1st amendment or anywhere else in the U.S. Constitution does it state that there is to be a "The Separation Of Church And State". Period. No arguements can be made to the contrary; any attempt is purely silly.
"The Separation of Church And State" idea is an interpretation. Yes folks, an INTERPRETATION, plain and simple.
The 1st amendment actually says: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" and it was written as a reaction to the Church of England, being established as the official church of England and some of the colonies." Our founding fathers did not want the government to select and dictate a particular religion that "We The People" had to follow. It was not made to keep the 10 Commandments off government lawns, keep kids from praying in school, or have "In God We Trust" on government buildings. None of these forces anyone to to join or be a member of anything. Sheezsh - it's ok to be a liberal but its silly to think that allows INTERPRETATIONS to become fact. Yes Miss O'Donnell YOU WERE ABSOLUTELY CORRECT !
________________
garbage. JEFFERSON refered to the establishment and free exercise clauses as creating the separation of church and state and that's how it's been referred to ever since. It's a shorthand reference, not an interpretation. we can debate how it applies to murals on the wall of the supreme court or granite monuments in a courthouse lobby, but that's not the point. Separation of church and state, however you interpret it, is in the Constitution.

And just so you don't miss the point, the furor isn't over that remark at all. It's at least literally correct, if petty and silly.

The furor is over Coons QUOTING the ACTUAL TEXT of the establishment clause - "Congress shall pass no law respecting an establishment of religion" and O'Donnell responding "that's in the Constitution?"

would one of you O'Donnell supporters care to comment on the ACTUAL ISSUE here instead of finding something else in her remarks that wasn't totally off the wall?

Posted by: JoeT1 | October 19, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm not Christine O'Donnell, and she certainly is not me. She is dumb, a celebrity seeking gold digger, looking for a way to make as much money as Sarah Palin. She just hasn't found that ghostwriter yet...one as dumb as her.

Those who say the First Amendment doesn't separate church and state are wrong. It is implict in the wording. They just want to impose their religion on the rest of us.

Posted by: Chagasman | October 19, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

O'Donnell is useless. I'm waiting for her to flame out post Nov. 2. Then Bill Maher can have her back again.

Posted by: heuristic77 | October 19, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

So she is an airhead and thus a tea party favorite. At least being an airhead gives her an excuse. When she makes untrue statements she does so innocently. She just doesn’t make lies. She only repeats crap many Republicans spew - even when they know they are lying. She is just the product of the right wing of their lies.

Posted by: timothy2me | October 19, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

JoeT1 - you are correct [on one issue] about what the issue actually is - that being the furor over what Coons actually said. I have to admit I only read the 1st sentence of the article as the article was pretty much over at that point. Heck I knew the whole plot. Little did I know that the 1st sentence only interpreted what Coons had said and as I pointed out earlier that "interpretation" word is a slick little weasle.

Posted by: 484moose | October 19, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

"The rights protected by the First Amendment exist regardless of the Constitution..."

*snort*

Okay, I'm trying to twist my way around that one, but can't seem to do it.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 19, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Bad argument, Ms. Petri.

Posted by: frank23 | October 19, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

JoeT1 - you are correct [on one issue] about what the issue actually is - that being the furor over what Coons actually said. I have to admit I only read the 1st sentence of the article as the article was pretty much over at that point. Heck I knew the whole plot. Little did I know that the 1st sentence only interpreted what Coons had said and as I pointed out earlier that "interpretation" word is a slick little weasle.

Posted by: 484moose
_____________________
I can't miss the opportunity to compliment someone for graciously acknowledging an oversight. How often does that happen on these blogs? 484moose, you have my utmost respect! we could use a lot more of that spirit on both sides.

and yes, the interpretation is another matter altogether. but by and large I think the Moses getting the ten commandments as one of a bunch of history of law allusions in the Supreme Court mural is fine, but the ten ton ten commandments put in the court lobby by the "in my court that's the law" judge was not. I'm not a fan of mandatory school prayer in public schools, and don't even think of making my kids learn creationism in a science class ;) (they went to Catholic school where they wouldn't even think of doing such a thing)

again, 484moose, you are a scholar and a gentleman(or lady).

Posted by: JoeT1 | October 19, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Thanks JoeT1:

And to top that off, my being the gentleman that I am, agree wholeheartedly with the middle paragraph of your 5:06 pm post.

Toodle pip...

Posted by: 484moose | October 19, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Nope, Dana... Little Tabitha O'Donnell might be you or your kind of woman, but she's not mine. (For the record, neither is that Asian woman "Gladys Kravitz" Angle out there in the hills of Nevada.

Here's my problem with her incredulous answer. She, like the other Tea Party pornographers, claim to know the Constitution like the back of their hands. They claim to know every decision made by those goldrun activist judges out there just activatin' and legislatin' from benches and chairs and couches (the latter two because they are inherently more comfy than hard park benches.) In the first televised debate, when Tabby was asked point blank, dead straight which recent Supreme Court decisions she disagreed with (and presuming any answer post Roe v Wade would suffice) she didn't have a fleepin' clue. In fact, she pulled Wasilla Whiteout and claimed she'd "post it on [her] website... promise!" (Wink wink, winsome girly smile!)

Now she could have disagreed with any freedom of speech case, the recent gun control case (citing perhaps it didn't go far enough to make sure she could use her Second Amendment rights), she could have jumped all over Citizens United (again claiming it didn't go far enough), or Bush v Gore (Democrats should have been banned from politics for life), how about raining on the Court decisions swirling about the Bush admin and torture, rendition, wiretapping... But she didn't know any of these. She had to go look them up and post them (not yet, maybe on Nov. 5 she'll have them up.)

So today, Delawarians learn this mistress of the Claremont summer vacation at Oxford seminar doesn't understand either Constitution or the doctrine of rights implicit in the language of the document. Nor does she understand the role of the Supreme Court to interpret said document.

Dana Milbank thinks its funny. It's not.

It is -- and she is -- downright dangerous.

Posted by: jade_7243 | October 19, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

I stand corrected... it's Alexandra Petri-Dish that thinks it's funny. Writing under the banner of Milbank, with no prominent disclaimer that it is her and not him is bound to lead to confusion and misattribution.

Posted by: jade_7243 | October 19, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

All religions are false, except for the order of the Aqua Buddha!

Posted by: johng1 | October 19, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Give me a break! I'm a foreigner living on the other side of the planet and even I know the U.S. Constitution and its ammendments, and the various interpretations - most of which aren't debatable, like the FIRST AMMENDMENT!

In fact, we foreigners get constitutional reminders every time there's some sort of American internal legal battle over changes to legislation, or, excuses for America's stupid patchwork laws; including gun ownership, drug possession and weird county ordinances.

How about intelligent Americans, like the author above, stop giving credit where it isn't due? O'Donnel is straight out of the Palin mold, a loud-mouthed moron who is only marginally smarter than the bulk of her supporters.

Posted by: icurhuman2 | October 19, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

You all missed the point. They were debating about the public school curriculum -- a matter for localities and states -- and O'Donnell was making a big fuss over the rights of local communities.

She was trying to sucker Coons into falling into a trap, in which he would have to acknowledge that judges -- yes, those nasty activist judges -- are the ones who have imposed the Establishment Clause on the states, via the 14th Amendment. The same 14th Amendment that those activist judges have used to establish a right to privacy, abortions, gay sex, etc.

Let me make clear, I don't agree with her. I think she's nuts.

But this argument is all about constitutional originalism and rejecting the expansion of individual rights by judges. And what she was saying is completely in line with that. A nutty idea? I think so. But does Christine O'Donnell really not know that the First Amendment addresses the idea of establishment of religion? I doubt it. Taken in the context of that debate, she was pretty clearly trying to make a point about states' rights. I don't agree with it, but it's what she believes.

Posted by: Meridian1 | October 19, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Obvious that She does Not know the First Amendment! - But it it TRUE that the FIRST Says absolutely NOTHING- about SEPARATION of CHURCH & STATE!! -- That IS FACT!! -- IT States "NO ESTABLISHMENT OF A RELIGION"- by the STATE!! -- NO ESTABLISHMENT MEANS NO CHOSEN RELIGION,--- OR DISCRIMINATION AGAINST ANY RELIGIONS!! - SO even today the FIRST "IS' MIS-INTERPRETED!!!

Posted by: jward52 | October 19, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Let's see if I was campaigning for a office in the Senate of the United States and was going to argue about Religion I think perhaps I would do a tad of research on the subject.

Gee please ask her which religion she will use to bring us to the same state as IRAN?

Posted by: justmehla | October 19, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure when it became acceptable to allow ignorance to run rampant in our government just because the ignorance might be common in the citizenry, too. If my accountant doesn't know basic arithmetic, I don't just say no big deal numbers-man, I'm not a math major either. Logic such as that defeats the purpose of ever hiring anyone to do a job for you, much less elect a leader in a major governmental position.

The point here is that O'Donnell is running for a post that will require her to know something about law and perhaps even demonstrate a little intellectual rigor. When she fails to do so, everyone--Bill Mahar, you, and every grade-schooler in the county--should call her out.

Alexandra, if you disagree with the form of the criticisms, write an op-ed about responsibility in political commentary. Here's an example of a topic: "Political Commentators Should Think About the Bigger Picture Before Running Off at the Mouth."

Posted by: SG85 | October 19, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Nothing is ever "Settled Law" in a Mad House.If you have ever worked in psychiatric facitlity, as I have, you know that amoung the more involved patients the normal laws of behavior and states of accepted reality may not apply.
What Tea Party candidates such as O'Donnel seem to provide is a window into the endless delusions of fringe groups and how their members are able to rationalize their bizarre belife system with a personal narrative of percieved grevance and persecution.
What is truley scary to me however as a private citizen is that it is only in times of chaos and an unsettled political climate that the delusions of fringe groups are highlighted by the media, given prominence and are provided with a ready made national audience. In times of political and economic stabilty the views of the fringe are seen as just so much ravings.


'

Posted by: oregonbirddog | October 19, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

I taught government in a public school for 40 years and taught citizenship courses at night in addition to teaching Political Science 1 in a Junior College. I can guarantee you that 10,000 students of mine know the Constitution and the first 10 Amendments. My students may not all be college grads, but they sure know their Constitution. I'll match them against any other in the U.S. Several have gone into politics and one is the chairman of the Libertarian Party of California (I wouldn't have chosen that party but HE was involved in politics). Let's give the public schools a break. We have done a good job.

Posted by: diamond2 | October 19, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Alex, ultimately who really does care about what's in the Constitution, after 50 Years of the Great Society oriented Chick-i-fridation of the Law, the Justice, and the Administration of same? Except maybe the 50-85% of US that have lost confidence that OUR elected Reps have any idea what those 'RIGHTS' and expectations enumerated there entail, and are now demanding relief from this insensitivity and confusion thusly:

WE are told of great new stuff coming, then we are told the stuff got lost in the mail, then We see wonderous, scary events and WE are told don't believe it nothing will be different, and frankly this whole thing has become a mystery WE can no longer abide.

When JFK went to Dallas in 1963, to announce his reform of the tax system, FED, IRS, etc., he was mowed down and the country mourned, but the world stood by and wondered...then the Politicians, the Media, and the Pundits wrote and said: "The World will never be the same", oh but, America did stay the same, and The World breathed a sigh of relief. Next thing WE know, Lyndon B. Johnson (D) TX (according to him following orders from higher up), led US to ignominity in Vietnam (not because WE couldn't Win and get out, but because 'they' wouldn't). Fast forward to 09/11/01, Twins gleaming in the sun, reaching to the sky in the sunrise, a pile of rubble at dusk. Now that was a paradigm shaker, wouldn't we think? The World shuddered, the Jackals danced in the street, and celebrated. Next thing we hear is "don't worry" 'we' (you) will take the War to the 'war-makers' and everything "will be the same", except for those *amned exceptions. Now the 'special' interests have become the supremes (back boodle Harry Greid) and the corporations are on a short leash, apparently, but look again, only certain corporations are on that short leash, while others are on the USS Clinton-Bush-Obama, seemingly unconcerned that there was a paradigm shift in November 2008. Does this begin to look and smell like a Cabal's Conspiracy, just Cruel Fate, or some kind of design?

WE vote for design, and will be voting for every Amateur Candidate no matter what letter is behind the name. Give US numbskulls, give US *itches or *itches, CEO's of DOT.COM fame, ex- westling promoters, actors (with the Right Creds), butchers, bakers, candle-stick makers, where is Jesse Ventura, and Joe the Plummer when WE need them. WE are nearly sick and tired of the EXCUSES, ad infinatum, then no excuse for why this mess hasn't been cleaned up, loaded up, driven to the edge, and shoved into that proverbial BRINK.

American's have, can, and will right the Ship of State, and make sure she turns back to the shores of prosperity for the most people ever in the History of the World.

WE have to find 'them', wherever they hide, and stop them. ONLY Amateurs can do this job, because unlike 'them', they have lives outside the hog-trough and will return to those pursuits as soon as they can.

Posted by: SpendNomore | October 19, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

diamond2, 'spect where 'spect is due and plenty is due to those of you who proceeded under sometimes difficult circustances and still suceeded in bringing substance carrying Brain Domes to where they can do the most good...Thank You for me and all who came to awareness under your kind of diligence...

N & E
Virginia, USA

Posted by: SpendNomore | October 19, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

I just want to thank God for ignoring the First Amendment and giving us the Twenty-First Amendment.

After reading all these comments, I really need a drink!

Posted by: divtune | October 19, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

She just set back the cause of women's rights about 40 years. I think I knew of the separation of church and state when I was about 8 years old. I wonder if she still believes in Santa Claus?

Posted by: randysbailin | October 19, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Christine O'Donnell is a raging idiot who deserves no one's vote.

With this said, check it out, check it out, check it out, no hands (and no peaking, honest):

First Amendment - Establishment, free exercise, speech, press, assembly for redress of grievences

Second Amendment - Bear arms

Third Amendment - No housing of soldiers in peace time

Fourth Amendment - No unreasonable searches and seizures

Fifth Amendment - Self-incrimination, federal due process, eminent domain

Sixth Amendment - Counsel, speedy trial

Seventh Amendment - Right to jury trial in civil cases at law

Eighth Amendment - Cruel and unusual punishments, excessive fines

Ninth Amendment - Other rights retained by the people

Tenth Amendment - Reserved to the states

Eleventh Amendment - No suing states in federal court

Twelfth Amendment - President and vice president elected on the same ticket

Thirteenth Amendment - Abolition

Fourteenth Amendment - Privileges and immunities, citizens of state born in and subject to jurisdiction of, equal protection, state due process

Fifteenth Amendment - Suffrage for freed slaves

Sixteenth Amendment - Allowance of income tax

Seventeenth Amendment - Direct election of senators

Eighteenth Amendment - Prohibition

Nineteenth Amendment - Women's suffrage

Twentieth Amendment - [can't remember]

Twenty-first Amendment - Repeal of prohibition

Twenty-second Amendment - President restricted to two terms

Twenty-third Amendment - [can't remember]

Twenty-fourth Amendment - D.C. residents vote for president

Twenty-fifth Amendment - [can't remember]

Twenty-sixth Amendment - Suffrage for those 18 and over

Twenty-seventh Amendment - Congressional pay raises after next election

Posted by: CaughtInAMosh | October 19, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I was off by only one and just a few punts! That's pretty damn good, ya gotta admit.

Posted by: CaughtInAMosh | October 19, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Shameful lack of reporting by the Post on this story. The AP article is much more well balanced and fair. I'm no fan of O'Donnell but she was making a fair point regarding the establishment clause, and the Post tried to paint her position as a lack of understanding of the issue.

Posted by: NDLS1998 | October 19, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That is the first amendment. The original amendment did not state that there should be a separation of church and state. It was later that the Supreme Court ruled it so. Much like abortion. Just take it to the Supreme Court if you don't like a certain law. What should be done is enact an amendment if you don't like something in the law of the land. They know that they could not get it through but through the courts, it is possible

Posted by: dy19spider57 | October 19, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

"My god, Petri, nationalized Americans know more about our Constitution than you do. But then, they're required to know it, aren't they? You're not and you don't even have the ambition to learn about it."

Here's an idea: Make everyone in the Tea Party take the test that all people who want to become American citizens have to PASS to become citizens.

Here's the catch: They fail, we ship them out to Iran or Saudi Arabia. No separation of Church and State there!!! That should be heaven on Earth for the Tea Party.

Posted by: chris30338 | October 19, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse

curmudgeon 6 wrote: "The rights protected by the First Amendment exist regardless of the Constitution..."

*snort*

Okay, I'm trying to twist my way around that one, but can't seem to do it.
--------------------------------------
Its clear to that you fail to understand the founding documents. The Declaration describes the principle that certain rights are god-given (or natural for you atheists) and inalienable. The first amendment does not grant the right of free expression, religion, assembly, etc., it clearly singles out these freedoms as ones that Congress may not restrict through laws. The freedoms exist regardless (see also the 9th amendment).

Posted by: Illini | October 19, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Hey Christine, you go girl!!!

First off, I like the idea of being 1000% more educated than my US Senators. Cool. I feel significant.

I learned if the Constitution doesn't explicitly state we can't do it, then, by GOD, we can. Like, where does it say in the Constitution that I have to drive on the right side of the road? That I can't walk around naked in public?

Silly laws don't hold anything on the Constitution. Heck with laws. I want to see it in the Constitution before I believe it. If I get arrested all I have to say is "where does it say that in the Constitution?" Like Christine.

I feel empowered. This Tea Party thing is quite enlightening. I'm coming around. I hope Christine gets elected President. Heck with Sarah.

Posted by: citizen4truth1 | October 20, 2010 7:18 AM | Report abuse

Sure, the average American may not know the First Amendment verbatim. However the average American does not self proclaim to be a constitutional scholar or is not in the running for U.S. Senate. I would not blame her if she could not recite it, however I fully expect her to know a summary of it. Or at least a brief summary. She continues to be an embarrassment to herself, Delaware, and her party. This is just a clear example in a long list that reinforces that she is a joke.

Posted by: superpage | October 20, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

O'donnell makes Palin look as smart as Steve Hawking.

Seriously, she's the republican equivalent of Alvin Greene. Although he's a better public speaker.

Ugh.

Posted by: Please_Fix_VAs_Roads | October 20, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I won’t attempt to declare (as Milbank has) that I know better than she, what Ms. O'Donnell was talking about. I will say this, however. Dana Milbank, is guilty of breeding the exact kind of ignorance he claims (without any serious, in depth, probative discussion) Ms. O’Donnell is guilty of possessing.

Is it possible that Ms. O'Donnell did not know, that the first amendment says that “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion”? Is it also possible that Ms. O’Donnell is unaware of the “equal protection” requirement of the 14th amendment, which prohibits states from abridging the rights of provided any US citizen, under the United States Constitution? The answer may be yes to both questions.

It is also quite possible that there is another explanation for Ms. O’Donnell’s line of debate yesterday. One which I believe is a more likely explanation than that of ignorance. And that explanation is this. Ms. O’Donnell is well aware of the language in the 1st amendment and she understands the provision, as stated in the 14th amendment, that no state may abridge any right afforded to any US citizen under the Constitution. Her question to Mr. Coons went to whether or not he understood that it was case law which established the “separation of church and state” doctrine now held as “constitutional” by our courts and whether or not he had ever considered the possibility that that case law was incorrectly decided.

As part of the exchange yesterday Ms. O’Donnell said “ So you're telling me that the separation of church and state, the phrase 'separation of church and state,' is in the First Amendment?" It is hard to draw any conclusion from that statement other than that Ms. O’Donnell correctly understands that the phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the 1st amendment. Whether she understands that it derives from a letter Thomas Jefferson, wrote January 1, 1802, in response to a letter addressed to him, upon his inauguration as President, by the Danbury Baptist Church of Connecticut, is a different question.

If one has studied both Danbury Baptist’s letter to Jefferson, as well as Jefferson’s response, one will quickly come to understand that Jefferson fully intended to assure the church that government was obliged to see (as the church wrote) “that no man ought suffer...on account of his religious opinions”. Whether or not Jefferson intended, in his response, that “separation of church and state” meant that religion had no place in the public square and was therefore to be purged from government is less, if at all, obvious. Yet, that is exactly the meaning those who mindlessly spout “separation of church and state” attempt to apply.

Mr. Milbank promotes the very ignorance he rails against by his failure to address the issue of “separation of church and state” on anything but the most superficial level and is therefore guilty or promoting the very ignorance he (I believe wrongly) claims of Ms. O’Donnell.

Posted by: howcanthisbe | October 20, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Dear howcanthisbe,

Your in-depth knowledge of the philosophical sources of our constitution and its amendments is truly admirable.

However, Dana Milbank didn't write this story.

Furthermore, your exegesis of the language of the First Amendment seems to casually discard the hundreds of years of interpretation which the Supreme Court has applied to it. Separation of church and state, particularly high-wall separation, has been firmly ensconced in constitutional discourse for a long time now. It's not a newfangled liberal plot to kill the church; it's an established doctrine.

Furthermore, Petri writes satire.

Posted by: purpledrank | October 20, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Christine O'Donnell was right. There is nothing in the First Amendment about separation of church and state. The comments here and the original article are galling in their stupidity.

Posted by: BaloneyGuy | October 20, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to recommend that the WaPo institute some kind of quiz before it allows people to comment to make sure that they have, in fact, READ the article and UNDERSTAND it.

For example: This article is, quite clearly, satire. And it is very funny! And in no way does Alexandra actually, seriously mean that is is OK for people not to know the 1st Amendment, at least, and especially not our government representatives!

You people, I swear.

Posted by: ttwiggle | October 20, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Dear purpledrank,

Yes I noted Ms. Petri’s photo after I published my comments. But still, this satire appears under Mr. Milbank’s byline. He therefore has ownership of it’s content, in much the same fashion as the Post has ownership of all works published under their banner.

And while it may be satire, it was delivered (as is all satire) with an underlying premise. In this case, that premise was neither establish or argued. Not even in the slightest manner. As such Milbank/Petri seek to argue against straw-men.

As to your impression that I casually disregarded “hundreds of years” of settled case law; I would say this. First, the constraints of 3000 characters had something to do with that. Secondly, I am satisfied with the way the court applied the 1st amendment’s restriction on Congress in the area of religion - at least for the first 170 years or so. It is the court’s ruling in Everson v. Board of Education, in 1947, and subsequent rulings based on the precedent established therein, which I take issue with. It was from that ruling that we began to see god disappear from the public square. And it was in that ruling that the court incorrectly (in my opinion) interrupted Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Church and his “wall of separation” comments therein.

Now, you may agree with me or you may not. But that is not really the point, is it. The point is that instead of delving into such a complicated issue, and educating their readers, columnists like Milbank frame the debate in the most superficial way, lampooning someone like Ms. O’Donnell in order to further their own political agenda. To do otherwise would be to lend creditability to the likes of candidates like Ms. O’Donnell and serve to inform the electorate. And that just wouldn’t do, would it.

And people wonder why political discourse is at such low levels. Unfortunately, there is more truth than satire in this piece. And in endorsing it’s publication, Milbank contributes to the problem.

Posted by: howcanthisbe | October 20, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Although unfortunately presented inarticulately, Ms. O’Donnell is correct that "separation of church and state" does not appear in the Constitution, nor is it a correct interpretation of the Establishment clause. The sole meaning of the Establishment clause was to prohibit the federal government from preferring one faith as a national religion. The 20th century Supreme Court rulings expanding that clause to incorporate the bigoted 19th century anti-Catholic concept of "separation of church and state" are an unconstitutional exercise of judicial overreach, as well as creating a jurisprudence which even pro-separationists acknowledge is incoherent. We need to amend the first amendment to restore the original meaning of its establishment clause, which is non-preference among denominations, not secular hostility to faith in general. See http://www.timelyrenewed.com.

Posted by: tr1123 | October 21, 2010 2:27 AM | Report abuse

I love how every is now a Constitutional scholar. Verbatim the beginning of Amendment 1 says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,…”
Did they mean that Congress should make no law which establishes one religious denomination over another; or possibly that Congress shall make no law that would impose religion in any form upon the citizens of the United States; or did they want to protect the people's right to freely practice religion; or maybe it a combination? Madison prose was written in a somewhat ambiguous manner and LAWYERS and JUDGES have been interpreting the Constitution since it was written. I know that JUDGES are never wrong – or are they? My advice is to be careful of what you think you know oh scholarly liberal intellectuals.

Posted by: rkindya | October 22, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

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