October 19th, 2010
01:01 PM ET
12 years ago

O'Donnell gets Coons for Constitutional Law 101

(CNN) – Christine O'Donnell received a lesson on the Constitution at Delaware's Widener Law School Tuesday, but unfortunately for the Republican Senate candidate it came during a debate with Democrat Chris Coons.

On the issue of whether creationism should be taught in public schools, a highly skeptical O'Donnell questioned Coon's assertion that the First Amendment calls for the separation of church and state.

"The First Amendment does?" O'Donnell asked during the Tuesday morning debate. "Let me just clarify: You're telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?"

Watch the heated interaction, after the jump:

Coons responded by quoting the relevant text: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

"That's in the First Amendment?" a still skeptical O'Donnell replied smiling, as laughter could be heard from the crowd.

Earlier in the debate, O'Donnell flat out asked, "Where in the Constitution is separation of Church and State?" - a question that Coons did not appear to take seriously.

Matt Moran, campaign manager for Christine O’Donnell, said in a statement that O'Donnell "was not questioning the concept of separation of church and state as subsequently established by the courts. She simply made the point that the phrase appears nowhere in the Constitution. It was in fact Chris Coons who demonstrated his Constitutional ignorance when he could not name the five freedoms contained in the First Amendment.”

Unfortunately for O'Donnell, the Tea Party-backed candidate also stumbled over the Fourteenth and Sixteenth Amendments when asked if she would support repealing them.

"I'm sorry, I didn't bring my Constitution with me. Fortunately, senators don't have to memorize the Constitution. Can you remind me of [them]?" O'Donnell said.

Some Republicans and members of the Tea Party movement have advocated repealing the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment that grants citizenship to every individual born in the United States and the Sixteenth Amendment that created the Federal Income Tax.

Members of the Tea Party movement have also called for a repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment – the provision that calls for direct election of U.S. senators. O'Donnell was aware of that amendment and said she supported it.

Filed under: 2010 • Chris Coons • Christine O'Donnell • Delaware
soundoff (325 Responses)
  1. AmFem

    What a dufus. A senator doesn't have to memorize the Constitution? How about, at the very least, knowing which amendments your own party is trying to change, and uses as their platform? This just goes to show you that Americans are literally "dumbing down." O'Donnell and the other tea bagger candidates are lowering the bar on who's acceptable as a candidate for the U.S. Senate (and Palin is their leader). This would be downright funny, if it wasn't so dangerous.

    October 19, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  2. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    And this is who you nutjobs want for a U.S. Senator?

    October 19, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  3. Joseph-Ohio

    The Tea Party is all for getting rid of the 14th and 16th admendment! I knew that and I am a DEM!!....OMG this lady is a FIRST CLASS IDIOT!!!!......News flash! You might want to know a thing or two about the Constitution before becoming a Senator...YOU THINK!......WOW, even a 5th grader knows that!....And this is the person Repubs want representing them from Deleware?...SCAREY!,,,,SERIOUSLY!!!!!!

    October 19, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  4. Muffet

    The following birds of a feather...dumb, stupid and ignorant...flies together. This is not about the right, left or middle...this is about upholding some kind of measure of integrity and the intelligence of this nation! Palin and her croonies are simply air brains. It is equivalent to handing a loaded cocked gun in the hands of 3 year olds (who by the way have a far higher level of intelligence than Palin).

    October 19, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  5. Texas Doc

    This idiot is the GOP nominee for the US Senate? They really do hate America. Before you even consider voting for a Republican, consider the fact that they are supporting candidates like this.

    October 19, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I thought this eejit – O'Connell – was backed by Palin and her Teabagggers? Aren't THEY, and by extension the candidates they support, supposed to be our out-house, err in-house, Constitutional scholars?! LOL!! Total train-wreck embarrassment.

    October 19, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I meant O'Donnell.

    October 19, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  8. Gary, Hunt Valley, Md.

    What O'Donnell meant to say was, "I'm all about upholding the Constitution with strict interpretation. Now, can somebody tell me what this stuff means? Bill of Rights? Isn't that just chatter from the left? Check my website for an update later."

    What O'Donnell meant to say, Part II: "I'm you, America. I'm ill-informed, incurious, close-minded, take terrible care of what little money I have. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must pray and dare myself to think about sex or evolution."

    October 19, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  9. wgf

    That's OK, I sure she's just chock-full of the "common sense" that Sarah Palin is always yapping on about.

    October 19, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  10. Dave

    Good Lord... I really hope the people of Delaware aren't stupid enough to elect this blithering idiot...

    October 19, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  11. Padraig

    Talk about digging a hole deeper and deeper.

    October 19, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  12. brent

    Just plain dumb. Sounds like someone is trying out-Palin Palin.

    October 19, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I'm sorry, I didn't bring my Constitution with me. Fortunately, senators don't have to memorize the Constitution.
    And THAT, folks, pretty much says it all!!!! ROFLMAO!!!!

    October 19, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  14. Elle in Idaho

    It's very embarrassing to us women with people like O'Donnell and Palin running around. They're idiots!!!

    October 19, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  15. Tori in Houston

    Thank you Delaware, for giving us the best entertainment ever during this election season! I'd like to send everyone in Delaware a pony and a special treat to Ms. O'Donnell – a copy of our beloved Constitution. Thanks again, you guys! Delaware Rocks!

    October 19, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  16. Avram Baskin

    Thank you Sarah Palin for personally guaranteeing that Chris Coons will be elected the next Senator from Delaware.

    October 19, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  17. Clint, Wa.

    Good god and everyone thinks Palin is a DING BAT, this women is a total BIMBO.

    October 19, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  18. JoeTeaParty

    Wow, I really find this hard to believe, how can this be possible? Doesn't she preach the constitution should decide everything?

    October 19, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  19. BD70

    Whoa...and she is running for the senate? If she wins I have to question the sanity of the voters.

    October 19, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  20. oneStarman - Walla Walla, WA

    OF COURSE O'Donnell was right – as much as I hate to admit it – the 'Separation of Church and State' – is a quote from a private letter by Thomas Jefferson to a friend. Mr. Coons also forgot to quote (as most do) the rest of the Amendment regarding Religion – "Congress shall make NO LAW respecting an ESTABLISHMENT of religion, OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF" – which means that we cannot be PREVENTED from Religious Expressions like Public Crosses or Prayer in Schools.

    October 19, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  21. firecoachk

    The teabaggers' love of the Constitution is unconditional - so they don't feel required to do anything extreme like read the document. What's "constitutional" is whatever is in their guts. The rest of us who paid attention in civics class are just secularist America-hatin' sochulists.

    October 19, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  22. Patrick Lewis

    For someone who is a lifelong political operative, not knowing the relevant parts of the bill of rights is pretty phenomenal. And to my way of thinking, yeah, she totally should know exactly what it says in the constitution. Her swearing in text, should she win, will say that she vows to uphold the constitution and how can she do that if she only follows the cliff notes version of it, supplied by her tea party masters? Not fit to serve.

    October 19, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Can O'Donnell EVEN spell the word 'constitution'? Okay, that one's too hard, how about 'first'? BWAHAHAHA!!!! Go Teabaggers! Go!!!!

    October 19, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  24. Kevin

    If any of the polls are right, and any of these Tea Party imbeciles get elected, the good news is, this will be the last time we ever have to contend with them. Unfortunately, the cost, even in 2 years time, will be great. How anyone in their right mind can even consider a vote for the likes of O'Donnell, or any of this group if ignorant, racist, self-serving, buffoons is totally beyond comprehension. No matter how "folksy" they may appear to be. Christine O'Donnell is a glaring example of an uneducated, right-wing zealot, that has absolutely no clue about things that are typically learned in a 7th grade civics class.

    October 19, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  25. ramtruck2500

    God help this wonderful country from the bumpkin and angry Teabagger man what a bunch!!!

    October 19, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
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