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. Chandler02

    Ms. O'Donnell is completely unqualified to be in Congress, like the other Tea Party Candidates Angle and Miller. THIS is who they chose to represent them and their platform? If you can't understand the Constitution, maybe you shouldn't be trying to change it!

    October 19, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  2. need new gov

    For a person that is supposedly running as a Constitutional tea party type candidate she is woefully ignorant on the constitution. It constantly amazes me how some people want fame so badly that they will say and do anything to get it. It's soooo embarrassing to watch.

    October 19, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  3. C Smith

    I am not sure anything really even needs to be said about this. These Tea Partiers. Always with the wisdom.

    October 19, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  4. corey from texas

    umm, i thought tea party candidates were all about the constitution .... i'm not sure this woman can complete the word scramble they give to kids at mcdonalds ..... she is not qualified to lead, PERIOD!!!!!!!!!

    October 19, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  5. Andy

    So if she thinks there is no constitutionally mandated separation of church and state, does that mean she supports sharia law?

    October 19, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  6. P

    If this does not end in a landslide, I will have lost all faith in American voters and this species as a whole.

    October 19, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  7. Ethan James

    What's the big friggin' deal? She's a witch not a Lawyer... Jeez, nobody's purrrfect.

    October 19, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  8. Caren

    You are misrepresenting what happened. O'Donnell got it right: there's no words in there about separating church and state, and that's what she was questioning. Coons is the one who needs a lesson and so do you.

    October 19, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  9. Tony Z

    This is too funny.

    October 19, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  10. jilli

    Right tea baggers – these are the kind of chuckleheads you want to elect? She's a professional campaigner – the only job she's had is running for office and doesn't even have a rudimentary comprehension of the Constitution. Oh, right, she's just like you...ignorant.

    October 19, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  11. Mark from Canada

    If Delaware actually elects this woman, they deserve everything they get.

    October 19, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  12. WBinNT

    Hey, its not her fault. No one told her there was going to be a pop quiz.

    October 19, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  13. kyle from ohio

    These question are got you question, ask Fallin Pallin

    October 19, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  14. Eric Hansen

    let me get this straight, Coons INCORRECTLY asserts that separation of church and state is established in the first amendment. O'Donnell calls him on it...

    Shouldn't the headline read Coons gets O'Donnell for constitutional law 101? This is totally ridiculous. Your headline asserts the opposite of what is found in the article when it is read carefully.

    Separation of church and state is a derived concept. It is not explicitly stated in the constitution. Not in the 1st amendment (which establishes freedom of religion) and not anywhere else. O'Donnell was right to challenge Coons on this as he was wrong. You wouldn't get that impression from reading this headline. Anti-teaparty shill much?

    This should be retracted and an apology issued. I saw this on the home page of CNN. One might get the impression that CNN has greater stake in bashing O'Donnell than in reporting the facts.

    October 19, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    This is misreporting of the actual debate – no wonder you all aregetting your butts kicked.

    October 19, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  16. maine liberal

    Fortunately, senators don't have to memorize the Constitution.


    October 19, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  17. Drew

    The Tea Party talks about protecting the constitution? Their candidates don't even know what's in the constitution! And when they find something they don't like, they decide to remove it! How is that protecting the constitution? That is literaly tearing it apart and taking away its significance.

    October 19, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  18. jake1969

    "Fortunately, senators don't have to memorize the Constitution." Hmmm...I thought that was the whole thrust of the Tea Party?? Respecting and upholding the Constitution, that they claim to know more about than the rest of us. Ridiculous. Kind of like the Tea Party hypocrisy on "freedom" when they oppose gay marriage, are silent on Prop 19 in California, as well as a host of other personal freedoms... People face it, the Tea Party is NOT a libertarian movement. It's a Christian Conservative movement just like the 80s and 90s, just trying to put a "libertarian" BS spin on it in hopes of wooing independents.

    October 19, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  19. Ken in NC

    Some would consider the fact that O'Donnell may be a WITCH and others consider her to be an IDIOT. I have no proof she is a WITCH but I am of the opinion she is not smart enough to be classified as an IDIOT and I refuse to insult IDIOTS also.

    October 19, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  20. Rob V

    Church/State separation is *NOT* in the US Constitution. It is from a US Supreme Court Ruling and a "Wall of Separation" comment from Thomas Jefferson. I support that separation, but it is NOT in the US Constitution.

    October 19, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  21. Former Republican, but never again!

    O'Donnell and Palin are stupid idiots! They speak in catch phrases and slogans and have no underlying knowledge of the issues. They are the best examples of the dumbing-down of this country! How any intelligent person could even think of voting for either of them is beyond me.

    October 19, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  22. rafael

    Yes, we should elect people who know nothing and dabbled in witchcraft, as long as they mention being Christian and wanting to take the country back.

    October 19, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  23. Luke

    That is not an oops moment. Oops is when I spill milk or misspell something. She honestly does not know the Bill of Rights. That's a dumb person. Don't sugar coat it.

    October 19, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  24. Republicans is smart in the head area

    She's a perfect representative of the TeaBagger movement: ignorant, incurious, unprepared and spoiled. She's running for SENATOR and she's not even familiar with the Constitution.

    October 19, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  25. VB Lincoln Park NJ

    The (Witch) O'Donnell has shown her total lack of qualification for any elected office, once, again, just like most of the other TEALIBAN candidates, who have no concept of what democracy really is, and are the biggest threat to freedom since the unintelligent McCarthyism of the 1950's. Those idiotic clowns were shown to be as stupid as the current crop of dopes that make up the TEALIBAN.

    October 19, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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