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. Jeehae

    Watching her advertise her ignorance in front of the country is similar to watching Palin do the same thing during the 2008 election. Sad thing is that people actually understand them and like them for their ignorance.

    October 19, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  2. Carmin Williams

    When we apply for a job and are granted an interview. Smart job candidates prepare for the interview by researching the company or organization. Voters should expect the same of political candidates. As the Bible states, "Study to show thyself approved." Oops is that mixing church and state? This woman doesn't know the basics of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and she wants to be in Congress? Give me a break.

    October 19, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  3. Eliza

    Does is say somewhere in the Constitution that you need to have an IQ of over 55 to run for office?

    October 19, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  4. John

    There's a big surprise another clueless Republican Female Figurehead..Sarah Palin,etc. Republicans, if you're going to run intelligence-challenged people like O'Donnell and Palin, at least make sure they have an idea of what the Constitution says.

    October 19, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  5. John

    CHRISTINE O'Donnell is a nut case and is UNQUALIFIED to be in the U.S.Senate. the people of Delaware can't be dumb enough to vote her in office.

    October 19, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  6. Dustin

    This is what the Tes Party supports. America needs to wake up.

    October 19, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |

    This is so scary, this woman running for Senate, her and Angle really scare the American people. It's seems now that these candidates are proud of their stupidity. I guess Half Gov Palin and Beck have done their job to dumb down America. There's still time to move forward instead of backwards.

    Vote NO in NOvember to the party of NO.

    October 19, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  8. Seneca

    Tea Party + Sarah Palin = O'donnell. These are the same people who call educated people 'eliteist'. This is why we should have our best and brightest in washington, not our most likeable.

    October 19, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  9. doug

    This Halloween we are going as the Delaware Senatorial race. My girlfriend will dress as a witch and I will be dressed as a bearded Marxist.

    October 19, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  10. Ex Republican

    Unbelievable. how would anyone, I mean anyone, republican or independent like myself now that has the least amount of respect for him or herself vote for a republican especially if that person is a tea party candidate? I hoenstly can not believe that someone with brain would even consider voting for those guys. I am not advocating voting for democrates but honestly, I rather see a democrat with a brain being elected rather than a nut case being even considered. BTW, I am an ultra Orthodox conservative who finally saw the light and decided to become independent. please CNN post and do not ignore.

    October 19, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  11. Steve (the real one)

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." Plain and simple. Now how does that mean seperation of church and state? How many times do you see dems stump in "black" churches ? No one says a word why? The answer is simple... Congress is not making a law! THAT PROHIBITION APPLIES TO CONGRESS AND CONGRESS ONLY when making laws that would benefit one religion over another. Other than that Seperation of church and state DOES NOT EXIST! Interestingly enough, the ones shouting that the loudest are the fastest to run to stump in churches!

    October 19, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  12. Jim

    Teapot. She is a total Teapot.

    October 19, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  13. jdoggers

    What a surprise! Who would have ever thought that christine o'donnell didn't know what is in the constitution?

    October 19, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  14. Orlando Patriot

    Why are they saying that O'Donnell "received a lesson" when she was factually correct in her comment? The Constitution and "freedom of religion" clause is what allows us citizens to worship anything/anybody we want. However, AND LET ME MAKE THIS CRYSTAL CLEAR there is no mention of "Separation of Church and State" ANYWHERE in the Constitution!! That is an interpretation made by liberal judges to a comment Thomas Jefferson said in a public forum speech later in life. In addition, when Jefferson made the comment "separation of church and state" was NOT to say the state cannot have an "accepted" religion (i.e. Christian) but that the CHURCH cannot dictate what the STATE does!! Quite the OPPOSITE from what most assume!! If the Constitution desired "separation of church and state" it would have been stated IN the Constitution. I accept your apology that you did not know the facts on this topic and you now realize that O'Donnell is smarter than most including you.............

    October 19, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  15. Can't We All Just Get Along?

    O'Donnell is such an idiot.

    Ben Kenobi was right when he asked Han Solo the famous question, "Who's the bigger fool - the fool or the fool who follows him?" Foolish people populate the Tea Party and the GOP and ever more foolish people follow them.

    October 19, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  16. sara

    She is not a very bright women. We learned all this stuff in Jr. High school.

    October 19, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  17. mama panda

    Will this nightmare ever end???

    October 19, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  18. KathyC in Minnesota

    Stupid is as Stupid does.

    Even my 13 year old Grandaughter knows the Constitution better than this nitwit does.

    October 19, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. Carol

    I think that the GOP in its zeal to take over the Senate has backed some real doozies. O'Donnell and Angle just keep putting their feet in their mouths. No matter how much Nevadans dislike Harry Reid, couldn't they find someone better than Sharon Angle to represent them? She seems so clueless – confusing Latinos with Asians? And I agree that Senators don't have to memorize the Constitution, but even an eighth grade student knows what's in the First Amendment.

    October 19, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  20. Kimo

    She doesn't understand science either given her comments on evolution ("monkeys should still be evolving into humans")and genetic engineering ("scientists have created mice with fully functioning human brains"). You have to wonder what she does understand other than her own ambitions.

    October 19, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  21. Sunnysmom

    Since she's been so hell-bent "defend the Constitution" and roll us back to 1776, which has been the whole Tea Party platform...she'd better know it front and back.

    October 19, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  22. Not All Docs Play Golf

    OOPS moment? O'Donnell, Angle, Palin, Rand Paul...the whole Tea Party represents a big oops moment for the U.S.

    October 19, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  23. Political Awareness Education Group

    Just how will Mr.Coons deal with Ms. O'Donnels
    84% approval rating among constituants under
    five years of age ????

    October 19, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  24. AEK

    Maybe she should have "called a friend". Mrs. Palin could have looked up the answer and Tweated her the answer. Not surprising that this candidate is hiding from the media. Tough questions when you've no real education in civics that most received in middle school.

    October 19, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  25. SPMAC

    OMG Where did they find this woman? In the back seat of a
    dodge Dart behind the stadium?
    Watching her over the past months has been like a bad dream. O'Bama has to helping the Tea Party find more candidates like this one. This teabag definitely has a hole in it.

    October 19, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
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