By Scott Tibbs, October 28, 2010
The popular narrative both the mainstream media and the Democratic Party is that Christine O'Donnell is a dunce. She doesn't know the issues, she is prone to gaffes and she's not terribly bright. So you can imagine the excitement when O'Donnell appeared to not know what is in the First Amendment.
The problem with the narrative is that O'Donnell is right.
O'Donnell made her alleged misstatement in a much-publicized YouTube video of a debate with her opponent. Fast forward the video to 2:45 and watch the room full of law students burst out laughing when she asks "where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?"
The answer: separation of church and state is not in the Constitution. You will not find the text "separation of church and state" anywhere in the Constitution, especially not in the First Amendment. You will find the Establishment Clause, which forbids Congress from making any law "respecting an establishment of religion," which is not the same thing.
Where it could be argued O'Donnell made her error is near the end of the video at 7:05, when her opponent again mentioned the Establishment Clause and she responded "that's in the First Amendment?" While she could have articulated her point more clearly, O'Donnell focused on the argument that "separation of church and state" is not in the Constitution. (And, again, it is not there.) From the context, O'Donnell is asking if "separation of church and state" itself is in there, not whether the Establishment Clause is in there.
It will be very interesting to see how this race turns out. With less than a week to go, O'Donnell certainly has an uphill battle to win this seat. Even though the polls do not favor her, everything will depend on turnout. Conservatives need to get out and vote for O'Donnell if for no other reason than it would be an embarrassment to the party establishment that has demeaned and attacked her for months.
See previous posts here, here and here.