How Well Do You Know the Constitution?


A recent national poll sponsored by the National Constitution Center (NCC) sheds a great deal of light on just why so many Americans hold such amazingly irrelevant opinions about the government of this nation. The poll highlights the fact that, if you don't understand the reality of what our rules of law are based upon, you will have no idea where we should be headed. This always leads to the unthinking and blind following of hateful personalities which has been the hallmark of America in the 80's and 90's.

In hopes of insuring that my readers will not fail this test in the future I will give the answers to the questions at the end of the article. We'll start with what should be fairly easy questions and work our way up to the more difficult. Remember, the Amendments are not part of the original document but were added starting four years later.

1) The U.S. Constitution established English as the nation's official language.
2) The U.S. Constitution established America as a Christian nation.
3) The U.S. Constitution outlawed slavery in all forms.
4) The First Amendment guarantees four inalienable rights: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to petition the government, and freedom of Assembly.
5) The U.S. Constitution established four branches of the government; the executive, the legislature, the judicial and the military.
6) The Commander in Chief during the Gulf "War" was Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf.
7) The first ten amendments are called the "Pledge of Allegiance".
8) The number of U.S. Senators from each state are determined by voter population.
9) Altogether, there are 27 amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
10) The U.S. Constitution established a tax on personal incomes.

Okay, should we check out how well we've done? Remember, this is, without doubt, the most important document in America's history. It is the focal point of all of the liberties which we seem to so easily take for granted and to give away every time some fanatical "leader" tells us to.

We have suspended many of these freedoms at one time or another or, more often, we've courageously taken them away from whichever minority or group were the most defenseless. We decided that the Indians and slaves were not human so that we didn't have to worry about their constitutional rights while we abused them and stole their lives and lands. We stole the property of all who appeared to be Japanese only because they were easier to identify than the millions of Germans or Italians living amongst us. We steal the property of everyone even suspected of breaking our useless and punitive drug laws without a second glance at the fourth or fifth amendments. We allow our government to invade our very homes with only the merest suspicion and without the safe guards of a court order, again, in order to win a long lost war on the nation's citizens.

Okay, here are the answers:

1) False- Just altogether false.
2) False - the Constitution only speaks of freedom of religion.
3) False - It was the Thirteenth Amendment of 1865.
4) False - there are five, those named above plus freedom of religion.
5) False - there are only three branches. The military has never belonged as a branch.
6) False - the Commander in Chief is the President (George Bush in this instance).
7) False - the Pledge of Allegiance is only a patriotic ode to some cloth.
8) False - each state sends two senators to Congress, regardless of population.
9) True
10) False - it was the 16th amendment of 1913.

All right, how did you do? The poll by the NCC found that the vast majority of Americans couldn't pass even a simple test like above. Between the NCC poll and those published recently by USAToday, America appears to be a place where we know everything about princesses and movie stars but little if anything about the history and laws of the nation we so proudly proclaim to be the best country on earth. Considering the scarcity of knowledge the average American citizen actually has about his country, how do they know which one is the best?

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Copyright 9/24/97