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Christine O’Donnell: no clue about the first amendment 20, October 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations.
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I am not American and I have never read the US Constitution nor have I studied American history in any depth. However, I know that the first amendment states the importance of the separation of church and state.

Alas it appears that I know more than Christine O’Donnell regarding the US Constitution as she manifestly has no understanding whatsoever of this founding principle enshrined in America’s most sacred document. Indeed, she confirms her ignorance again and again as the discussion progresses as you can see below.

Surely it is scarcely less than a terrifying thought of someone like her obtaining even a modicum of power.

The Guardian further notes that this is but the latest example of Tea Party candidates caught hopelessly out of their depth.

On Sunday, security guards for Republican senate candidate Joe Miller forcibly handcuffed a local journalist after a public event in Alaska, while Nevada Republican Sharron Angle recently told a room full of Hispanic students that “some of you look a little more Asian to me

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1. Abstract JK - 20, October 2010

While I am not going to defend this woman, it is important to note that the 1st amendment does not enshrine ‘the separation of church and state’ as a founding principle. Although many Americans (and others) widely refer to this part of the 1st amendment as such, it is a bit more nuanced than that.

The 1st amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

So, in essence, Congress shall not create an official religion, or make laws to impede the exercise of religion. However nitpicky this may be, the concept of ‘Separation of Church and State’ does not follow directly from the Constitution, but rather from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson, in which he summarizes these two principles (when combined) as essentially ‘separating the state from religion’.

Thus, to a strict constructionist (one who reads the constitution in the most literal sense), Christine O’Donnell’s question “Where in the constitution is separation of church and state” is not as ridiculous of a question as it may sound…

2. AbuArqala - 20, October 2010

I believe this is a matter of interpretation of the meaning of “separation of Church and State”.

The First Amendment to the US Constitution contains two basic items:
(1) a prohibition on the establishment of a state Church (with the implications of a religious test for holding office, the right to vote, etc) and
(2) a guarantee of freedom of expression including religious freedom and right to assembly.

“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 the Right in the US has a problem is with what they consider an attempt to remove God and religion from public life. A complete separation – a complete secularization. When they argue about separation of Church and State, this is the point they refer to. Not that the State should establish a religion, though I suspect many of them would like Christianity named the official religion (with of course no explicit condemnation of any heretical sects within).

Displays of biblical verses, including the 10 Commandments, mandatory prayer in public schools, displays of nativity scenes on public property, etc were quite common in the USA until Madeleine Murray’s challenge over public school prayer.

So if one wants to read the Constitution strictly, one can find some justification for her position.

Just as Learned Associate Justice Scalia pointed out in an interview when asked about the Constitutionality of torture and the Eighth Amendment.

He said with a knowing smile (which some have no doubt unfairly characterized as a self-satisfied smirk) that the Eighth Amendment only prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment”. And interrogation is not punishment. And therefore the Constitution by his logic is silent on the issue. Being silent, then it is not prohibited.

thegulfblog.com - 20, October 2010

Beginning to which I’d never opined my poorly informed opinion now. Facts, people! How boring!

Having said that your judicious comments are always appreciated. And I still maintain that I’ll surreptitiously post my PhD here for similarly rigorous critiquing. Thanks gents.


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