Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Christine O'Donnell, the Tea Party, and constitutional ignorance

Given the magnitude of ignorance displayed by most Tea-Party candidates and supporters, it is somewhat surprising when relatively minor gaffes -- such as the one seen yesterday when Delaware Republican Senate candidate, Christine O’Donnell revealed her ignorance of the First Amendment -- suddenly cause an indignant stir.  In a debate with Democratic candidate, Chris Coons, O’Donnell was trying to make the point (arguably more offensively ignorant than her obliviousness to Constitutional content) that Intelligent Design, somehow distinguished from Creationism in her mind, is a theory at least on par with that of Evolution, and that it should be within the rights of any public school-board to teach this mythology at the expense of Biology.  To insinuate Science upon our school-boards would be, according to O’Donnell, “imposing your beliefs on the local schools,” which flies in the face of “indispensable principles” established by the Founding Fathers.

Coons interjected, “"One of those indispensable principles is the separation of church and state."

"Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?" O’Donnell shot back.

The crowd laughed in disbelief.  Worse, O’Donnell clearly seemed to feel that they were laughing with her, not at her, as she continued her descent.

 "The First Amendment establishes the separation, the fact that the federal government shall not establish religion," Coons explained.

"The First Amendment does?" O’Donnell pressed incredulously. "You're telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?"

Unfortunately for her, the audience was a collection of legal scholars and law students at Widener University Law School, where the debate was being hosted, thus their laughter at her non-existent grasp of Constitutional Law. (Read the full article here)

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