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. Uh Oh!!

    wa hahahahaha! wow!!!! Coons just won the election with those comments. Big ooops for O Donnell

    October 19, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. Tam

    The tea party candidates, the dumber-than-a-two-by-four people - what entertainment! And for free. The trouble is, we will be paying for it in economy, politics, and international and national pride if any of them get into government. Like if Marmaduke ever caught the car he's chasing - now what?! no clue

    October 19, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  3. Buzzz

    Perhaps she should call $arah Palin, she knows everything-just ask her-oh sorry can't ask any questioj that are not pre-screened-OK then tweet her

    October 19, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  4. gewehr97

    I hope you realize that nowhere in the Constitution does it mention Separation of Church and State. As far as the Constitution stating that Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, that means that Congress can not vote to ban or regulate a religion. In fact, Separation of Church and State was first quoted by Jefferson in a letter to a small religious sect afraid of being outlawed. So the concept of Separation of Church and State is all about protecting Church from the State.

    October 19, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  5. Ilia

    O'Donnell has no chance of winning at this point, unless all of Delaware suddenly becomes mentally handicapped like all members of the tea party

    October 19, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  6. Threat

    And you people are seriously, I mean SERIOUSLY thinking of making this........complete moron a senator?

    October 19, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  7. stevegee

    A vote for any Democrat is a vote for the overreaching, overspending, overtly divisive agenda of Obama, Pelosi and Reid that will end in failure and bankruptcy for our country.

    A vote for any Republican is a vote for the Constitutional principles of freedom and liberty, and a free market economy. On November 2nd, vote American, vote Conservative, vote Republican.

    October 19, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  8. Bob Z.

    Nowhere in the 1st amendment does it state "the separation of church and state". It has two clauses pertaining to the relationship between government and religion. "Establishment" clause stating the state cannot make laws creating/favoring a religion. The 2nd clause is "free exercise of" religion. "Separation of Church & State" is a higher standard than what is explicitly stated in the Constitution.

    October 19, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  9. Ministry of Federal Canadian Ministers

    The constitutional research group of the members of Canadian Parliament thank Ms. O'Donnell
    for not only her views on the Constitution of The United States , but also her views on the Canadian
    Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    October 19, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  10. Mike in CA

    Oh...my...god! O'Donnell is a complete buffoon and yet despite hers (and most other Tea Party candidates) complete and obvious ignorance regarding the Constitution, she's STILL in the running?? If our country ever needed help from above, now would be a good time.

    October 19, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  11. sunsohot

    not surprised.....she's an idiot

    October 19, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  12. American

    O'Donnell, Angle, Paul, Brewer, Palin..........Thanks alot Tea Party . You always represent what is worst about this country.

    October 19, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  13. johnrj08

    Anybody who makes the statement that the phrase "separation of church and state" is not found in the Constitution is obviously not opposed to having a theocratic form of government. Most religious fanatics like O'Donnell think this country should be a nation of commandments rather than laws. This filters into all of her other policy preferences, including a woman's right to choose. What we're looking at here is an enemy of freedom.

    October 19, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  14. Brian

    Who is Christine O'Donnell ?????

    October 19, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  15. bbrooker

    Those lamestream media outlets and their gotcha journalism!!

    Hey Teabaggers, great job nominating O'Donnell. Your strategy of voting for anybody that Palin tells you to vote for without putting once ounce of thought into it is really working out. What intelligent patriots you are.

    October 19, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  16. phoenix86

    The big Oops. O'Donnell KNOWS the constitution. The separation of church and state is NOT found there.

    She just illustrated the collective ignorance of her democratic foes and their liberal allies.

    October 19, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  17. Me

    The next thing you're going to tell me is that she doesn't know what the Vice President of the United States does.
    The unfortunate thing is that this is normal, not only for Tea Party candidates, but for members of the Tea Party as well. They are WILLFULLY IGNORANT and when the truth is presented to them, they reject it based on whether or not it fits into their core beliefs.

    People like this cannot be allowed into a position of power within our government.

    I can't believe she didn't know that

    October 19, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  18. rjf

    This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone (with the possible exception of Mama Grizzly); O'Donnell has, at best, a room-temperature IQ.

    October 19, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  19. Dumbasrocks [R]s

    That this deluded demagogue, who has now repeatedly advertised her idiocy via several venues, continues to be celebrated as a central political figure by uber-partisan Tea-tards speaks volumes on the character of the people who support her.

    Those people who knowingly put our country at risk by voting for such obvious rightwing trash should be ostrasized by that part of our citizenry that chooses to actually use our brains.

    October 19, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  20. Marie MD

    OMG! I wonder how many of these teabaggers have ho clue when they talk about the Consitution. Probably all of them starting with the half term.
    Just when you think that they can't get more stupid one of them opens his/her mouth and sticks their foot in it.
    angle and the Mexicans looking Asian; bachman the revolutionary; o'donnell the witch who has probably never read the Constitution; brewer and the phanthom beheadings; the one from AK acting exaclty like a spoiled little brat.
    As a woman I want smart women in Congress or anywhere else because they deserve it (educatipon, smart, intelligent) but these women are a joke to not just women but inhabitants of this planet.
    These is the best the teabaggers have to offer? They are pathetic. I would feels orry for them if I didn't know that all they want is to succeed so they stick it to the little guy.

    October 19, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  21. Mr. T. Bag

    Christine O'Donnell and her Tea Party Republican friends are an embarrassment and a disgrace to the United States of America.

    They are founding the American Idiocracy and the demise of intelligence. "brought to you by Karl's junior."

    October 19, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  22. randy

    If we want to have a conversation here. The 1st amendment clause of "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion". Does not require separation of church and state. That law if read the way I see the founders reading it is that the Federal Government (nothing about state or local). Can not advocate a religion. What is not mentioned in the article is the following phrase "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". With that being said, no judge or court, or law should stop the free practice of any religion, I will add "as long as it does not infringe on other rights" but that would be outside of this topic.

    The actual term "separation of church and state" is not in the Constitution, but was actually in a letter from Thomas Jefferson. In that respect Christine O'Donnell was absolutely correct.

    October 19, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  23. Fixer2010

    Yet again, O'Donnell confirms exactly why she should not be elected into a political position. Can this woman
    get any stupider? She doesn't even know her own political platform.....If you want to be taken seriously, at least take
    the time to "google" the topics you are against/for.

    October 19, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  24. Rodrigo

    OH MY GOD!!! US should blame only itself if this person is elected for office

    October 19, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  25. George

    Come on, Republicans! Can't you do better than this?

    October 19, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
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