Oct 19, 2010

Christine O'Donnell and what she didn't learn while not attending Claremont Graduate University*

For a constitutional scholar, Christine O'Donnell, the Republican Senate candidate in Delaware, made some strange statements today in her debate with Democratic rival Chris Coons about the contents of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

From the Associated Press:
The exchange came in a debate before an audience of legal scholars and law students at Widener University Law School, as O'Donnell criticized Democratic nominee Chris Coons' position that teaching creationism in public school would violate the First Amendment by promoting religious doctrine.

Coons said private and parochial schools are free to teach creationism but that "religious doctrine doesn't belong in our public schools."

"Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?" O'Donnell asked him.

When Coons responded that the First Amendment bars Congress from making laws respecting the establishment of religion, O'Donnell asked: "You're telling me that's in the First Amendment?"
It is in the First Amendment. In fact, it's the first line: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

A campaign spokesman later said O'Donnell was saying the phrase "separation of church and state" didn't appear in the Constitution. But she seemed extremely skeptical about the "shall make no law" bit, too.

O'Donnell also stumbled when asked about the 14th and 16th Amendments, which enumerate citizenship rights and federal powers to collect income tax, respectively.

Why the added scrutiny for O'Donnell? First, because she says her legislative priorities are based on her understanding of the Constitution. Second, because she claimed to have taken a graduate course in constitutional government from the Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank (that is not an accredited college and offers no graduate courses). Then there was the LinkedIn profile that claimed she'd studied constitutional government at Claremont Graduate University, a real college that she did not attend and that has nothing to do with the Claremont Institute.

*Update: Let's go to the video:

1 comment:

Sam said...

What a surprise! Who would have ever thought that Christine O'Donnell didn't know what is in the constitution??