Americans don’t know much about the Constitution, and it apparently is getting worse. Nine years ago, I wrote and recorded a commentary about constitutional illiteracy.
Back then I quoted John Whitehead (Rutherford Institute) who testified before a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee concerning the rule of law. He provided some alarming statistics based upon a survey done about ten years ago.
They found that only one in four Americans could name more than one of the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. In one study, they found that only one person out of 1,000 people could name all five First Amendment freedoms. Those would be the freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly, along with the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
I thought about those statistics when I read an editorial written by Cal Thomas. He quoted from a recent poll conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center. They found that 37 percent of those interviewed could not name ANY of the five rights protected in the First Amendment.
Nearly a decade ago we were lamenting how few could name more than one of the First Amendment freedoms. Today, more than a third cannot name any of the freedoms in the First Amendment.
Americans are not only ignorant of the Constitution; many are ignorant of the structure of our government. A third (33%) could not name one of the three branches of government. About a fourth (26%) could correctly name all three.
Unfortunately, some of these Americans who are ignorant of the Constitution and ignorant of our government actually vote in elections. You can’t protect the rights guaranteed in the Constitution if you don’t know what they are. You can’t protect our system of government if you don’t know how it is structured. I hope you can see that we have lots of work to do to educate Americans about the Constitution.