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Free and Strong America

Thursday, October 21, 2010

O'Donnell was Right

Our friends across the pond at the The Guardian get it horribly wrong...

"At a debate today for the Delaware Senate seat once occupied by Vice President Joe Biden, O'Donnell appeared to be nonplussed by the wording of the first amendment, repeatedly returning to the subject and sounding incredulous after her Democratic opponent Chris Coons attempted to explain it to her.

When Coons told her the text of the constitution prohibited government from establishing any religion, O'Donnell replied in apparent bewilderment: "You're telling me that's in the first amendment?"

Minutes earlier, the audience at Widener Law School in Delaware had laughed in derision when O'Donnell asked: "Where in the constitution is the separation of church and state?"

Not only is the first amendment perhaps the most famous part of the constitution but the "establishment clause", as it is known, is the subject of legal precedent stretching back into the 19th century. No less an authority than Thomas Jefferson declared the clause's aim to build "a wall of separation between church and state".

Actually, the words "seperation of church and state" appear exactly nowhere in the US Constitution and the fact that neither the author of the article nor a group of law students and Widener understood this only goes to expose the ignorance of those who sieze upon the first interpretation that they come across and unflinchingly accept it as gospel truth.


veggiedude said...

Next you are telling us we do not have freedom of expression in the USA, because the phrase is not found in the Constitution. Sheesh! Stop trying to make this fool look smart, because she ain't.

Froggie said...

Stumping for O'Donnell? LOL!!!

Oh by the way, "separation of powers," "checks and balances," and "right to privacy in our own homes" don't appear in the Constitution either.


I do agree that she was trying to make a point, but she did it in a sophomoric manner, and people took it that she was doing a parody of herself. That is what made is so funny, to me.

ATVLC said...

...those who sieze upon the first interpretation that they come across and unflinchingly accept it as gospel truth.

You know whose interpretation they were accepting?


And guess which body is referred to in the Constitution as the supreme judicial authority over the laws?

It isn't about the phrase separation of church and state and whether or not its in the Constitution.

Coons says: "Government shall make no establishment of religion."
And O'Donnell comes back with "That's in the First Amendment?"

Yes, it is.

Which then leads to a smattering of shocked and uncomfortable laughter from the audience, which O'Donnell misinterprets as applause.

JD Curtis said...

Stop trying to make this fool look smart, because she ain't

Ms. O'Donnell's intelligence or lack thereof is not the issue here. Coons flubbed this one and O'Donnell was right. At what point did Coons state/agree that such terminology does NOT appear in the Constitution? If you answered "never", you win the booby-prize.

JD Curtis said...

You know whose interpretation they were accepting?


You might be unaware, but such idiocy as B-b-b-b-but SEPERATON OF CHURCH AND STATE! It's in the CONSTITUTION! is repeated with alarming regularity in the US by ninconpoops who have no idea what they are talking about.

Supergreensunbear said...

First Amendment of the Bill of Rights: "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"

How are you interpreting this?

ATVLC said...


And they would be right. It is in your Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court, (who are the people who the Constitution says should be interpreting it).

"Separation of church and state" is how the First Amendment has been described for almost 200 years. You're a bit late to the party.

The Maryland Crustacean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Maryland Crustacean said...

I am afraid some people's historical analysis is flawed and anachronistic. And just like Supreme Court justice and KKK member Hugo Black who first used the "wall of separation" language in a SCOTUS ruling, such analysis is driven not by an understanding of history and the Constitution but rather by what they want the Constitution to say.

Everyone knows but few care to acknowledge the inconvenient fact that the "separation of Church and state" phrase is not in the Constitution, and was found only in Jefferson's letter written to the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut in 1802, after he was elected president and well after the ratification of the constitution,

How is this for Jefferson's wall of separattion?

"Throughout his public career, including two terms as President, Jefferson pursued policies incompatible with the "high and impregnable" wall the modern Supreme Court has erroneously attributed to him. For example, he endorsed the use of federal funds to build churches and to support Christian missionaries working among the Indians. The absurd conclusion that countless courts and commentators would have us reach is that Jefferson routinely pursued policies that violated his own "wall of separation."


Dred Scott! Do do these people really think that the SCOTUS is infallible?

The Maryland Crustacean said...

It should also be noted that the key introductory phrase in the first amendment is "Congress shall make no law..." The entire bill of rights, like much of the rest of the Constitution, was intended as a limitation on the central federal government and not on the states. That is why well after the ratification of the Constitution, many of the individual states had their own state religion. Not that I think that was a good idea, but it illustrates that the establisment clause was meant primarily as a limitation on the federal government, not as a limitation on the states. Neither was it meant as a limitation on churches by keeping them out of the public square, as much as the historical revisionist would like it that way. On the contrary, it was meant as a way of protecting the church against government interference.

"God save the United States and this Honorable Court.”

GentleSkeptic said...

That Christine O'Donnell was technically and literally "correct" but conceptually wide-of-the-mark at best is so trivial, and of such little interest, that it hardly constitutes a triumph.

Here are some other things/words that do not appear in the constitution.

Almighty God.
Jesus Christ.
Christian Nation.
This is a Christian Nation.
We are all devout Christians.
We dedicate this nation to God.
The Ten Commandments.
Sin. Atonement. Redemption. Salvation.
The Bible is the foundation of our morality.
Praise the Lord.

Can I get a "GentleSkeptic was right?"



GentleSkeptic said...

TMC, that was a nice Sherroding swipe at Hugo Black.

Whateverman said...

Yeah, the separation is widely regarded as being established in the first amendment. By "widely" I mean "considered factual for the last 200+ years of jurisprudence".

That the words don't explicitly appear there is a minor semantic point. Walk into a court of law and declare the separation of church and state doesn't appear in the constitution, and you'll be tossed out on your butt.

O'Donnel's lack of knowledge on a subject about which she's vociferous is shocking yet entirely consistent with what the public expects from her. You're scoring no points by trying to make an argument that a first year law student would demolish before finishing his/her first beer.

JD Curtis said...

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

And given the paltry attendence figures at the C of E and other state sponsered Scandanavian churches on Any Given Sunday, then it would appear that this is one that the Founding Fathers got right.

This is a Christian Nation

That was actually decided latter in the Trinity Decision.

We dedicate this nation to God

That was actually done much earlier at Cape Henry. Link

The Ten Commandments

Are on display at the US Supreme Court. Link

ATVLC said...

That Christine O'Donnell was technically and literally "correct"...

She was wrong. It was a a blunder. People have been laughing at her all around the world. (Even here in Australia).

And she still didn't seem to recognize the text of the amendment when Coons quoted it.

Coons never said the phrase "separation of church and state" was in the First Amendment. That's not what he said.

"Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?" O'Donnell asked him.
When Coons responded that the First Amendment bars Congress from making laws respecting the establishment of religion, O'Donnell asked: "You're telling me that's in the First Amendment?

And now the Republican bloggers have to spin this as being about the exact phrase but we've all seen the debate, it's not going to work on the swinging undecided.

JD Curtis said...

The lead that Coons has right now is pretty much statistically secure for him.

The important thing (IMO) was to unseat that RINO Castle in the primary. Conservatives are taking back the Republican party and I'm lovin' it.

Froggie said...

It amazes me how any average guy that's working for a living would want to do away with social security, unemployment and the safe guards he may need when he gets disabled, thrown out of his company when he's 56 years old, etc.

The disparity between the rich and middle class is widening daily and you want to give them more.


JD Curtis said...


Social Security is f----d, no matter what party takes charge, I will know that I will be receiving less that those that are retired know.

Froggie said...

No, JD. It doesn't have to be that way.

One tenth of the money that we send overseas and spend on wars would run SS for eternity.

GentleSkeptic said...

This is a Christian Nation
We dedicate this nation to God
The Ten Commandments

Yeah, but JD: the WORDS aren't in the constitution.

So, can I get a "GentleSkeptic was right?" Because I'm right in the same way O'Donnell was. Right?

Whateverman said...

Sorry Froggie, I'm going to back JD up on this one. Social security is doomed. It's a matter of When, not If.

Froggie said...

Of course you're right, GS.

The unspoken motive for right wing religious politicos to abolish social security, medicare, etc. has been revealed quite well by Glenn Beck.

They think if they abolish social programs then the churches will be the ones to provide help to the needy, etc. But, the churches had their chance and failed miserably over the entire history of the USofA.

They think that if they abolish social programs that it will motivate people to join churches and create a new "revival."

The situation in Uganda, though, is a prome example of what would happen if he right wing fundies would attain power.
Ugandan theocracy, with the support of influential American evangelicans like Scott Lively are demonizing everybody they can. This is an interesting situation to watch.

Like the Discovery institute kept their actual motive secret for many years the right wing religionists try to be careful not to let out their true motives.

This evangelical revival talk is about two things: Power and control and has no compassion for the well being of the citizens of our culture.

Froggie said...

Glenn Beck has stated on several occasions that if the words "Social Justice" are mentioned in your church, you should run away as fast as you can. Even though we have some very successful social programs, the fundies still think only they should be in control of meteing out aid when needed.

Froggie said...

"Sorry Froggie, I'm going to back JD up on this one. Social security is doomed. It's a matter of When, not If."

Sorry back, but it is only doomed if you want it to be doomed. It needs reformed but is not doomed.



As the time comes to perpetuate this most successful social program, new ideas will emerge.

When I get to my own PC I will send some more.

Froggie said...

Michael Master

"There are some who argue that Social Security is in trouble because people are living longer.

Those arguments are absolutely wrong.

As presented in my book, "Save America Now," an average person earning $50,000 who works for 45 years contributes close to two-thirds of a million dollars (14 percent of pay), including compounded interest, which should be enough to cover the measly $18,000 per year (2.5 percent) Social Security payout – without touching the principal.

As covered in my book, two of the causes to the insolvency of our Social Security system are directly attributable to our federal government:

There are only three people today contributing to Social Security for every retired person. It was only a couple of decades ago when there were eight people contributing per retiree. The successful push by our government in the 1970s for zero-population growth (negative internal growth) is one of the causes.

The money that should be available for each person has been borrowede by politicians for other projects.
This is a simple question: How is it that government employees can pay about the same into their retirement system that the rest of us pay into the Social Security system, yet their retirement plan has no insolvency problems and has higher payouts?

The answer is also simple: No one used those savings of government employees (including elected employees like Congress) for things other than growing their retirement accounts. Therefore, retirement incomes of government employees are not dependent on revenues from the current generation of workers.
The federal government needs to replace what it stole. An estimate is that the pricetag for Social Security will exceed revenues by a trillion dollars over the next 30 years. If the federal government socks away about $30 billion per year with compounded interest, then it can repay its theft. That is less than 1 percent of the federal budget. If our politicians cannot find 1 percent (lay off a few government employees) without increasing taxes (including Social Security), then fire them.
Why is it that every time our government screws up, it is the hard-working citizens of America who either have to accept less benefits or pay more taxes? It is because we the people do not hold our government accountable. We need to force our government to save Social Security as the first step to help Save America Now!"

Froggie said...

There are many good ways to save social security-it is only conservative republicans protecting the American Royalty that would have you believe otherwise.

GentleSkeptic said...

Here's someone else who thinks separation of church and state is a lie, with that view very well contextualized.


Be afraid.

Froggie said...


Adam Nardoli said...

if you watch the tape it is COONS who explains that the actual phrase "seperation of Church and State" is a result of legal precedence NOT actually in the constitution.

Whateverman said...

I remain a skeptic (re. SS), but the info here makes me want to read about it more. Thanks y'all.

Whateverman said...

Incidentally, if anyone it was O'Donnell who "Quayled" herself, not Palin.

Froggie said...

"This is a Christian Nation"

Yup, we are nation of mostly "Christians," most of who are going to hell according to the fundamentalists.

"The Ten Commandments

Are on display at the US Supreme Court."

Yup, but they are not in the constitution.
In fact, seven of the ten Cs are not contstitutional.

Done deal.

Froggie said...

A country of hundreds of competing Christian sects with a secular government. All have equal rights to worsip as they please, but never with government endorsement.