Christine O’Donnell’s bizarre ignorance over matters of Religion and the State

This explains so much about Christine O’Donnell’s political philosophy:

WILMINGTON, Del. — Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell of Delaware on Tuesday questioned whether the U.S. Constitution calls for a separation of church and state, appearing to disagree or not know that the First Amendment bars the government from establishing religion.

The exchange came in a debate before an audience of legal scholars and law students at Widener University Law School, as O’Donnell criticized Democratic nominee Chris Coons’ position that teaching creationism in public school would violate the First Amendment by promoting religious doctrine.

Coons said private and parochial schools are free to teach creationism but that “religious doctrine doesn’t belong in our public schools.”

“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?”

Her comments, in a debate aired on radio station WDEL, generated a buzz in the audience.

“You actually audibly heard the crowd gasp,” Widener University political scientist Wesley Leckrone said after the debate, adding that it raised questions about O’Donnell’s grasp of the Constitution.

(Via Doug Mataconis)

Here’s the video:

On a related note, I’ve been watching PBS’s wonderful “God in America” series. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a more in-depth understanding of just how important religion has been to the evolution of this society. For instance, the very notion of separating Church and State wasn’t brought about by radical secularists. It was sparked by the Baptists who were being arrested for preaching in Virginia. At the time Virginia had an institutional church, the Anglican Church, and the elites and heads of the Church were very threatened by these radical preachers. Separation of Church and State was the work of both early Christian evangelicals and radical secularists like Thomas Jefferson who saw the good in keeping the two institutions separate, all of which eventually led to the inclusion of the First Amendment in the Constitution.

Ironically, in Delaware there was a great deal more tolerance for pluralism at the time, and the two institutions were already pretty much separate. It’s really a shame O’Donnell doesn’t know this and yet hopes to make herself part of that State’s legacy.






190 replies
  1. 1

    I saw this at TPM, and… just… words fail. They fail.

    /returns to quiet rocking-in-the-corner to which she alluded in Doug J’s most recent thread.

  2. 2
    MikeJ says:

    You would think that xtians could point to a different example of religious elite running things that turned out badly for one particular schismatic sect of Jews.

  3. 3
    LGRooney says:

    I’ve probably bought 10 copies of the book “The Godless Constitution” over the years because I keep giving it away. It is succinct but surprisingly informative and there are plenty of references should one want to go a bit further with it. My jaw dropped when I heard about this.

  4. 4
    JPL says:

    Remember this when you want to vote for someone like your neighbor. From the LATimes

    Later when questioned about other constitutional points, O’Donnell said: “I’m sorry I didn’t bring my Constitution with me. Fortunately senators don’t have to memorize the Constitution.”

  5. 5

    /stops rocking long enough to say:

    It’s not actually all that bizarre, when one considers all the crap that’s been flying around the country in the guise of “political discourse” since 2008.

    Not bizarre, and not at all surprising.

  6. 6
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    The history of the Baptists is why I ask “Which version of Christianity?” anytime someone talks about establishing a religion for the country.

  7. 7
    burnspbesq says:

    This is evidence of ignorance, not philosophy.

    I won’t call Ms. O’Donnell “dumb as a box of rocks.” I don’t want to insult any boxes of rocks who might be reading this.

  8. 8
    eemom says:

    And yet Mr. Constitution himself tells us that attacks on Teatards are “overblown.” Tis strange.

  9. 9
    Steve says:

    Separation of Church and State was the work of both early Christian evangelicals and radical secularists like Thomas Jefferson who saw the good in keeping the two institutions separate, all of which eventually led to the inclusion of the First Amendment in the Constitution.

    I think the argument is that because the institutional churches in the various colonies (I think Massachusetts had one too) didn’t shut down immediately upon ratification of the Constitution, this means the Founders had something entirely different in mind and cared solely about free exercise.

  10. 10
    kdaug says:

    Guessing she doesn’t know about the “no religious test for office” bit, either.

  11. 11

    You guys, she has EXPLAINED this. (Warning: link to Daily Caller)

    “In this morning’s WDEL debate, Christine O’Donnell was not questioning the concept of separation of church and state as subsequently established by the courts,” said campaign manager Matt Moran. “She simply made the point that the phrase appears nowhere in the Constitution.”

    The First Amendment remains a part of the Constitution, and the Federalist promise of the Bill of Rights continues to be what finally guaranteed ratification of the Constitution. Facts remain facts.

  12. 12
    Mark S. says:

    adding that it raised questions about O’Donnell’s grasp of the Constitution.

    HOOCODONODE?

    Seriously, what the fuck in Christine’s background would lead one to believe she knows anything about the Constitution?

  13. 13
    El Cid says:

    There are two weird disagreements I often have with conservatives I know when somehow I can’t avoid having discussions on this topic.

    First, they refuse to recognize any significant parallel between “church” and “establishment of religion” and “state” with “Congress” and “Law”.*

    Second, they have no grasp of the historical significance of Europeans fleeing to North America to flee government interference in religion, and how this is related to their desire to see more of their religion enforced by government.

    Actually, most conservatives I know don’t even seem to grasp the significance of Article 1 in the Constitution establishing Congress to make laws. They seem to be of the mindset that there’s the Constitution, and all the laws are just sort of deduced from that via some magic algorithm or human computers, and then the Executive to do it.

  14. 14
    Brachiator says:

    @Steve:

    I think the argument is that because the institutional churches in the various colonies (I think Massachusetts had one too) didn’t shut down immediately upon ratification of the Constitution, this means the Founders had something entirely different in mind and cared solely about free exercise.

    No. The founders acknowledged state sovereignty in this area, but no federal or national church could be established or recognized. They were looking at their British cousins and the intertwining of the monarchy and the Anglican Church, and wanted to make sure that they avoided the church schisms that plagued Europe.

    This goes along with the idea of no religious test for holding a federal office.

  15. 15
    El Cid says:

    @Mark S.: The True Constitution is not known in words, but in the conservative heart. It doesn’t matter — as Glenn Beck’s deity W. Cleon Skousen outlined in the TeaTard bible The 5,000 Year Leap, it’s all deduced from the principles of Natural Law anyway, so if you want to understand the Constitution you just follow Christian paranoids who claim to know the actual laws to govern mankind.

  16. 16

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): Yeah. I simply ask what they’d do if their church wasn’t the winner of the elections and wasn’t in charge. I’ve never gotten an answer. I suppose it’s because they can’t imagine a world in which their particular church wouldn’t come out on top, since they have the one line to God that no one else seems to have.

  17. 17
    Remember November says:

    They wrote that in for people like Christine O’Donnell to keep them as far away from governing as possible.

  18. 18
    NickM says:

    The most troubling part of that video is when she thinks she scored a zinger, and smiles and mugs, when the crowd is actually laughing at her, about 3:00 in.

  19. 19
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    This is a gross conceptual error on the part of Balloon Juice.

    The First Amendment prohibits the establishment of a State religion.

    The First Amendment does not exclude religion from State functions.

  20. 20

    @JPL: Holy crap. Robert Byrd is going to haunt her.

  21. 21
    JenJen says:

    @Joseph Nobles: Oh good gawd, that explanation makes it even worse, doesn’t it?

    Even Chuck Todd was just laughing on MSNBC as they replayed this. He said, “There’s a reason why nobody has Delaware on the playing field anymore. She has proven herself to basically not be able to do Civics 101. And frankly, I think that does matter to voters.”

    Some voters, Chuckie. Some.

  22. 22
    Remember November says:

    @El Cid:

    Because second-guessing people who died 200 years ago is now Philosophical validation.

    Oh the Stupid it burns. At a Law college.

  23. 23
    xephyr says:

    The great dumbing down (clueless bimbo) is clearly going according to plan.

  24. 24
    Face says:

    adding that it raised questions about O’Donnell’s grasp of the Constitution (fill in the blank).

    A more honest question is: what couldn’t that blank be filled in with?

    Seperate question: is she married/dating?

  25. 25
    El Cid says:

    @Remember November: You do not “second guess” what the Founding Father Deities meant. You have faith that the word you are told about what they meant and desired is the One Truth, and librul attempts to confuse you with words and such is only Satan attempting to get you do doubt George Washington, who was of course a supply-side tough on crime anti-welfare for the negroes Christian fundamentalist, because he just was.

  26. 26
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    The history of the Baptists is why I ask “Which version of Christianity?” anytime someone talks about establishing a religion for the country.

    Well, Catholics are still numerically the largest single denomination in the country, so clearly it’s going to have to be Catholicism.

    John Hagee, prepare to bow to the Whore of Rome and recite 10 “Hail Marys”!

  27. 27
    MikeJ says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): I like asking them if school teachers should be allowed to turn all the desks towards Mecca and lead the class in prayers.

  28. 28
    JPL says:

    Does this mean the end of debates? Republicans nominate whackos who make fools of themselves because they overslept when they should have gone to civics class. Will they just cancel debates?

  29. 29
    Culture of Truth says:

    There are so many amendments — we’re supposed to keep track of all of them?!?

  30. 30
    Pangloss says:

    We had a pretty good run.

  31. 31
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @burnspbesq:

    This is evidence of ignorance, not philosophy.

    The philosophy is ignorance.

  32. 32
    morzer says:

    I suppose O’Donnell believes in miracles, since she apparently gets by on $5800 per year of income.

    Separation of Church and State ultimately derives from the fact that the Church of England was the established church in the colonies at the time of the Revolution, and basically ran all things religious. This naturally irritated the various other churches, and they pushed hard to make sure that they weren’t going to be under the thumb of another “established” religion. And yes, the deists among the Founding Fathers agreed with them, although not for exactly the same reasons.

  33. 33
    kdaug says:

    @Face: @JPL: What do you mean “will they”?

    They have.

  34. 34
    JPL says:

    @Brick Oven Bill: You need to listen to the debate.

    Coons .“Government shall make no establishment of religion,”
    O’Donnell “That’s in the 1st Amendment,”

  35. 35
    aimai says:

    @Mnemosyne: When I was still teaching I asked my students what religion they were and the one from down south answered “Christian” and I asked her “what kind?” and she became extremely confused. I explained to her about one of the major divisions (Catholic/Protestant) but she was still unable to grasp the notion that there were many varieties of Christian. As far as she was concerned there were the RTC’s (Slactivist’s term for Real True) and everyone else. The point I’m making is that you can use logic and prompting and signs, interpretive dance, and sharp ringing claps to the ears and yet there are certain people who simply can’t learn something they don’t already believe.

    aimai

  36. 36
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    I love it:

    “Well, you’ve just proved how little you know about constitutional law.”

    Oh and BTW Christine, saying that evolution is a theory doesn’t mean what you think it does. The theory of gravity is a theory too.

  37. 37
    burnspbesq says:

    @Face:

    In the absence of evidence to the contrary, I am prepared to assume that Ms. O’Donnell has mastered addition and subtraction and can spell her own name.

  38. 38
    jibeaux says:

    Somehow I can’t hear this exchange: 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?”

    I heard the first part — is the part I quoted above right after it, or further along. ‘Cause I can’t watch that forever.

  39. 39
    Ash Can says:

    @Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther: This was my first thought too. O’Donnell’s ignorance isn’t the least bit bizarre. On the contrary, it’s typical for the bimbos, space aliens, potted plants, and other assorted flora and fauna of the Tea Party.

  40. 40
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    @JenJen:

    Even Chuck Todd was just laughing on MSNBC as they replayed this. He said, “There’s a reason why nobody has Delaware on the playing field anymore. She has proven herself to basically not be able to do Civics 101. And frankly, I think that does matter to voters.”

    Todd actually said that? To quote the outlaw Lucky Ned Pepper;

    “I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man”

    I’m sure Chuckles will settle back down into his don’t-be-offensive line of conventional blather for another year or five.

  41. 41
    MikeJ says:

    @Face:

    Seperate question: is she married/dating?

    Lives in sin, but chastely.

  42. 42
    Punchy says:

    Will they just cancel debates?

    I’m surprised they had any at all, considering she’s so vociferously against mass-debating.

  43. 43
    mds says:

    Separation of Church and State was the work of both early Christian evangelicals and radical secularists like Thomas Jefferson who saw the good in keeping the two institutions separate, all of which eventually led to the inclusion of the First Amendment in the Constitution.

    Heck, never mind early Christian evangelicals. The most recent “Faith & Message” blueprint of the Southern Baptist Convention, from 2000, still has this to say:

    Church and state should be separate.

    and

    The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work.

    Admittedly, this runs afoul of the fact that putrescent assholes like Richard Land and Al Mohler violate this section every time they open their lying mouths, even though they’re senior Southern Baptist leaders. Apparently, the Faith & Message is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.

    Still, it’s an interesting historical artifact of the times when the sects that currently make up a large segment of the Republican Party’s religious footsoldiers actually remembered their roots as religious minorities. If only Jesus or Saint Paul had ever said anything about putting yourself in the place of the powerless.

  44. 44
    SpotWeld says:

    So many Tea-Party politicians are like some sort of autometon. Remember ELIZA, a crude bit of software designed to respond to input as if it were another person at the other keyboard. It never really succeeded since you quickly twigged on that the reponces to your sentences were never quite right, and eventually you hit a pretty obvious responce that was just insane.

    Palin, O’Donnell, and a whole herd of “pundits” are like the ELIZA software loaded up with GOP talking points.

    At first they can repsonce to discussion with some obvious boilerplate, but when you extend the conversation a little long it just becomes insane.

  45. 45
    Scott P. says:

    “I’m sorry I didn’t bring my Constitution with me. Fortunately senators don’t have to memorize the Constitution.”

    Remember during the Health Care debate where Republicans were saying they couldn’t vote for the bill because it was longer than the Constitution? Now apparently the Constitution itself is too long.

  46. 46
    Remember November says:

    @El Cid:

    QFT

    Now if we could only get the TP crazies to understand.

  47. 47
    JPL says:

    @jibeaux: The quote that I had was towards the end about 6 or 7 minutes into the debate.
    It shows great fortitude to watch the entire 8 minutes though.
    (that and a glass of wine)

  48. 48
    Stooleo says:

    Later when questioned about other constitutional points, O’Donnell said: “I’m sorry I didn’t bring my Constitution with me. Fortunately senators don’t have to memorize the Constitution.”

    Maybe they should, or at least pass a test.

  49. 49
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Face: She apparently has a live-in boyfriend… and they live together very chastely.

  50. 50

    I don’t presume to speak for her, but I imagine her reasoning to be that since the first amendment does not specifically use the language “separation of church and state”. Thus it is not in the Constitution and not in the First Amendment.

    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.

    Now, I would hazard a guess that her interpretation of Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion means no national churches, but pretty much everything else goes. (e.g prayer in schools, government offices, etc; Ten Commandment displays; public nativity sets; singing Christmas carols in schools, calling is Christmas and Easter break; teaching conservative biblical creationism; etc.)

    But that would involve a more detailed and nuanced discussion of Supreme Court cases, precedent, why the Court was wrong, how we should go about overturning this, how minority rights could still be protected, the corrupting temptations of worldly power to the church; etc.

    You know, an actual, informative, useful discussion about the role of religion in the public sphere which could win some people over to her point of view, create consensus, and help us put this endless debate to an end.

    But it’s really just far easier to stick to sloganeering. It whips up the supporters to go vote.

    So I don’t think she’s being quite as stupid as she’s being made out to be. She’s just relying to sound bytes and short hand slogans and making the assumption that her audience will be sufficiently versed in the long form arguments to ‘get’ what she’s saying.

  51. 51
    RSR says:

    This is what happens when you take ConLaw at Oxford.

  52. 52
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    I guaran-fucking-tee you that teabaggers are loudly praising O’Donnell for speaking “the truth” about how separation of church and state ISN’T IN THE CONSTITUTION! It’s some bullshitty thing the damn dirty evil LIEbruls made up (with the help of activist judges) in order to force ‘Murrika away from its Christian roots and toward secularism, which, of course, leads to soshulism. O’Donnell is saying exactly what they want her to say.

  53. 53

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    First amendment:
    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.

    That amendment covers a lot of ground.

    In the case of the schools, if you agree that public schools are government efforts to teach [indoctrinate?] the young, then any religious concept taught there would definitely be counter to the constitution.

    I do have a question though: if the people have the right to assemble peaceably, and if that is not a privilege granted by the gracious government, why do we have to have permits to stage demonstrations etc.?

  54. 54
    JPL says:

    Will Republicans hold debates in 2012? Will Sarah debate if she is the nominee for President? Will Senators debate?
    IMO, they can’t afford to because they are crazy as a rabid bat.

  55. 55
    New Yorker says:

    Her comments, in a debate aired on radio station WDEL, generated a buzz in the audience.

    “Generated a buzz”? I guess that’s village-speak for “people laughing their asses off at the appalling ignorance on display” because that’s the response I heard watching the above video.

    I want to see O’Donnell debate Jimmy McMillan. Something tells me Mr. Rent Is Too Damn High understands the Constitution better than she does.

  56. 56
    Ash Can says:

    @JPL: Actually, it seems to me that there are some Tea Party candidates who are refusing to debate their opponents, but I can’t think of any off the top of my head. (I know, of course, that there are a number of candidates who are refusing to speak to most if not all of the press, which has been documented already in these hallowed threads.)

  57. 57
    JPL says:

    @Ash Can: Angle and Miller and Paladino did not want to debate Cuomo, one on one. I’m afraid it’s more than a trend.

  58. 58
    Ash Can says:

    @Punchy: OK, I lol’ed.

  59. 59
    fourlegsgood says:

    She doesn’t seem to realize that an amendment to the constitution means that language has been added to the original document, and now is part of the constitution. The ignorance is just astounding. Completely astounding.

  60. 60
    licensed to kill time says:

    I want a soundtrack of Johnny (Rotten) Lydon shrieking “This is what you want? this is what you get!” played full volume over that video. Tea Peeps want the girl next door in the Senate? Here she is, Miss Know Nada. Have fun with that!

  61. 61
    kdaug says:

    @aimai: The first litmus test question I like to ask is “Was Jesus an American or a foreigner?” You’d be surprised how many people this can weed out from further conversation.

  62. 62
    El Cid says:

    Fucking Amendments — how do they work?

  63. 63
    eric says:

    Actually, she is totally correct. State sanctioned churches lasted long after the Constitution. (I believe now-godless massachusetts was the last to end the practice.)

    It is only through incorporation of the 1st amendment through the 14th amendment that the Establishment Clause applies to States. And, as we all know, the 14th Amendment was a post-Civil War amendment.

    Thus, the separation of Church and “State” was not in the original Constitution at all; it is “judge made.”

    Though, I suspect that was not what was then (or now) going through her head.

    eric

  64. 64
    R-Jud says:

    @Stooleo:

    Maybe they should, or at least pass a test.

    If I were queen of the universe or whatever, I’d require all prospective candidates for federal office to take and pass the AP Government and AP US History Tests before becoming eligible to run in a primary. If they can’t demonstrate the same understanding of our institutions and past as a fairly bright high school junior, they shouldn’t get to play.

  65. 65
    Ash Can says:

    @JPL: I’m sure it’s because their handlers (if not they themselves) know that they’d get sliced, diced, and baked into cute little pies if they were to debate their opponents one-on-one. Avoiding situations in which they in any way get called on their bullshit allows them to maintain their narratives.

  66. 66
    El Cid says:

    @kdaug: He may have been born in Bethlehem, but he found his home in the USA. Alongside Chuck Norris and Ted Nugent.

  67. 67
    Ash Can says:

    @kdaug: Whoa. Really? Seriously?

    Um. Wow.

    ::ponders whether to start drinking early or just join Emily in the corner::

    ::decides to do both::

  68. 68
    RSA says:

    @Comrade Dread:
    __

    I don’t presume to speak for her, but I imagine her reasoning to be that since the first amendment does not specifically use the language “separation of church and state”. Thus it is not in the Constitution and not in the First Amendment.

    Could have been. But that kind of hair-splitting would let gun control groups, for example, lobby for a huge tax on bullets and say that this is not unconstitutional.

  69. 69
    Scott says:

    @Ash Can: Rick Perry, current governor of Texas, is refusing to debate his opponent, Bill White.

  70. 70
    Roger Moore says:

    @Mark S.:

    Seriously, what the fuck in Christine’s background would lead one to believe she knows anything about the Constitution?

    What in her background would make you think she knows anything about anything, except for how to earn a living by being a pretend candidate? She has no qualifications for office, so it’s no surprise that she’s ignorant about the constitution.

  71. 71
    El Cid says:

    I’m so glad our decision to bring freedom to Iraq diminished the power of Iran in the region.

  72. 72
    Original Lee says:

    @El Cid: According to the Book of Mormon, more true than you knew.

  73. 73

    @SpotWeld: Excellent analogy. I’m going to steal borrow this.

  74. 74
    Stooleo says:

    @El Cid:

    Fucking Amendments—how do they work?

    Hil fucking larious.

  75. 75
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @Brachiator:

    Yes, the USSC did not formally hold that the Establishment Clause applied to the states until 1947. In Everson v. Board of Education, the court held that the clause was incorporated with respect to the states (and hence local govts) through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. They’d held the Free Establishment Clause to be so incorporated seven years earlier, in Cantwell v. Connecticut.

    So aside from the fact that most if not all state constitutions include a version of the Establishment Clause, the fact that the federal prohibition indeed applies to state and local actions completely escapes this nitwit when she says “I’m shocked, shocked, that you think the federal govt can tell the locals what to do!” Evidently Christine thinks Wilmington could create the first Church of Wilmington and it would be just fine.

  76. 76
    Original Lee says:

    Does anybody know a Regent’s U law school grad? I’d be mighty interested in looking at their Constitutional Law 101 syllabus at this point in time.

  77. 77
    Mnemosyne says:

    @aimai:

    When I was still teaching I asked my students what religion they were and the one from down south answered “Christian” and I asked her “what kind?” and she became extremely confused. I explained to her about one of the major divisions (Catholic/Protestant) but she was still unable to grasp the notion that there were many varieties of Christian.

    Yep, I’ve run into that, too. Basically for them, “Christian” is “people who attend my church” (and that means the same physical building 90 percent of the time) and everyone else is “not Christian.”

    No wonder they all feel like they’re a beleaguered minority — as far as they’re concerned, they are, because there are only 500 or 600 Christians in the whole country since the people who attend all those other churches don’t count.

  78. 78
    vtr says:

    There’s more about church and state in U.S. history in Sarah Vowell’s book, “The Wordy Shipmates.”

  79. 79
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    @Scott P.:

    Remember during the Health Care debate where Republicans were saying they couldn’t vote for the bill because it was longer than the Constitution? Now apparently the Constitution itself is too long.

    “The Constitution should be shorter than the Constitution!”

  80. 80
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    Now, I would hazard a guess that her interpretation of Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion means no national churches, but pretty much everything else goes. (e.g prayer in schools, government offices, etc; Ten Commandment displays; public nativity sets; singing Christmas carols in schools, calling is Christmas and Easter break; teaching conservative biblical creationism; etc.)
    __
    But that would involve a more detailed and nuanced discussion of Supreme Court cases, precedent, why the Court was wrong, how we should go about overturning this, how minority rights could still be protected, the corrupting temptations of worldly power to the church; etc.

    So I don’t think she’s being quite as stupid as she’s being made out to be. She’s just relying to sound bytes and short hand slogans and making the assumption that her audience will be sufficiently versed in the long form arguments to ‘get’ what she’s saying.

    First, do you honestly believe that Christine O’Donnell would ever consider the question of the separation of church and state with the depth, nuance, and historical perspective with which your comment was imbued? If so, I would love to hear why exactly you believe O’Donnell is capable of such rigorous critical analysis.

    I think she’s exactly as stupid as she sounds, since her entire “point” was centered on the semantics of whether the explicit phrase “separation of church and state” is contained in the First Amendment. Of course, everyone knows that the exact language is not in the amendment, but the overriding principle behind the linguistic sentiment is most certainly there.

    There has literally been nothing that would indicate Christine O’Donnell’s political accumen and overall intelligence is anywhere near a respectable level, and this would certainly have to be the nail in the coffin for her intellectual credibility.

  81. 81
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    This is a gross conceptual error on the part of Balloon Juice.

    I couldn’t agree more; every post you make here is a gross conceptual error on the part of Balloon Juice, though I’m sure many others are to blame as well.

  82. 82
    Shalimar says:

    “She simply made the point that the phrase appears nowhere in the Constitution.”

    And the word “blowjob” appeared nowhere in Bill Clinton’s statement that he did not have sex with that woman. So he must have been telling the truth and we can have those years of government stalemate back, right?

  83. 83
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    Well except that she is just as stupid as she’s made out to be when she rests her argument on the idea that “The federal govt can’t tell the locals what to do!” See my comment @75.

  84. 84
    Culture of Truth says:

    She feels con law in her gut.

    It’s as if a stupider Stephen Colbert the character ran for the Senate.

  85. 85
    kdaug says:

    @Ash Can: To be fair, there is a Bethlehem, Pennsylvania…

  86. 86
    Culture of Truth says:

    She feels con law in her gut.

    It’s as if a stupider Stephen Colbert the character ran for the Senate.

  87. 87
    Hal says:

    Does anybody know a Regent’s U law school grad? I’d be mighty interested in looking at their Constitutional Law 101 syllabus at this point in time.

    Try the Justice Department from 2000-2008. That’s apparently where all of them ended up, that is; once they managed to pass the Bar exam.

  88. 88
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    Well except that she is just as stupid as she’s made out to be when she rests her argument on the idea that “It’s a local issue, and the federal govt can’t tell the locals what to do!” See my comment @75.

  89. 89
    Bob says:

    “‘You actually audibly heard the crowd gasp,’ Widener University political scientist Wesley Leckrone said after the debate, adding that it raised questions about O’Donnell’s grasp of the Constitution reality.”

    Fixed.

  90. 90

    @RSA:

    Could have been. But that kind of hair-splitting would let gun control groups, for example, lobby for a huge tax on bullets and say that this is not unconstitutional.

    Would it be?

  91. 91
    Arclite says:

    This didn’t surprise me at all. The teabaggers are all about power for power’s sake, and selfishly what is best for them. Why bother to learn the law?

    Also, our gov’t has been routinely ignore the constitution (illegal wiretapping, torture, indefinite detention, etc.) for almost a decade now, so the next logical step is not even knowing the tenets.

    I would say this is typical and expected, not shocking and strange.

  92. 92
    marcopolo says:

    @Punchy: FTW! Thanks for giving me my first good laugh of the day.

  93. 93
    kay says:

    @El Cid:

    Fucking Amendments—how do they work?

    That’s what she was thinking. Coons should get a medal for restraint and self-control. I love how he arranges his face in “respectful listener”, keeping his expression perfectly neutral and open, when it’s her turn to speak. It’s all he needs to do, just let her talk, but the urge to convey contempt or dismissal must be really strong.

  94. 94
    Hal says:

    I guaran-fucking-tee you that teabaggers are loudly praising O’Donnell for speaking “the truth” about how separation of church and state ISN’T IN THE CONSTITUTION!

    This has always been the conservative argument. The words “separation of church and state” are not in the constitution, therefor, there is no separation.

    PS,

    Constitional Law is not part of the Hogwarts curriculum, so I can’t blame her for not knowing.

  95. 95
    JPL says:

    All I know about the Constitution, I learned from the NRA.

    OT From the Washington Post but there is not a link yet
    U.S. investigating possible criminal violations in foreclosure crisis
    Is it possible that the DOJ knows something about property rights and the rule of law. Our Constitution at work.

  96. 96
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @fasteddie9318: Yeah, he couldn’t have done it alone.

  97. 97
    cmorenc says:

    Anton Scalia views of the “establishment” clause are very similar to O’Donnell’s. The difference is that because he is on the Supreme Court, his triumph of ideology over knowledge must unfortunately be taken seriously, if only because he has one of the nine votes on that body and O’Donnell doesn’t.

    You can laugh at O’Donnell, but not so easy to laugh at an arrogant buffoon like Scalia who has vastly more power to do harm than one would-be but not-likely US Senator.

  98. 98
    Cris says:

    @New Yorker: “Generated a buzz”? I guess that’s village-speak for “people laughing their asses off at the appalling ignorance on display” because that’s the response I heard watching the above video.

    Even funnier, O’Donnell laughed right along with them. Apparently she thought they were laughing with her, not at her.

  99. 99

    @Ash Can: I don’t generally drink, but if you bring some over to the corner, I might make an exception. We seem to be living in a “drink or go to sleep” period of American history.

  100. 100

    @El Cid:

    He [Jesus] may have been born in Bethlehem, but he found his home in the USA. Alongside Chuck Norris and Ted Nugent.

    Ted Nugent is not a pagan any more? Infidel!

  101. 101
    cleek says:

    nah. i’m not buying this.

    it’s pretty clear that she was actually trying to point out that the literal phrase isn’t in the first amendment. that’s a bog-standard fundy-wingnut talking point. anyone who knows enough wingnutese to say that intelligent design is different from creationism knows that the “separation” bit isn’t in the Constitution.

    she fucked up because:
    a) she was too coy about the way she phrased it
    b) she assumed everybody knew that she was speaking wingnut. they didn’t.

  102. 102
    chopper says:

    luckily, the first amendment also gives us the clear right to mock cole for the concept of ‘peak wingnut’.

    i love the constitution.

  103. 103
    sacman701 says:

    I would agree with the headline if you left out the words “over matters of religion and the state”. Complete ignoramus across the board.

  104. 104
    Steve says:

    @Brachiator: I accept that the Bill of Rights only applied to the federal government at the outset. But if the Baptists were being persecuted in Virginia, did they really see this as helpful to their cause? The federal government wouldn’t persecute them, but the Anglican Church of Virginia would keep on doing it, right? Was their solution to up and leave Virginia as soon as the Constitution was ratified? I thought people who were being oppressed would want a set of rules that would stop their oppression, not perpetuate it.

  105. 105
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Linda Featheringill: A lot of times the permit is there to prevent two groups from trying to occupy the same space or to give notice so that police can be informed especially if it is going to be a large crowd. When I almost reenlisted in the Navy I was going to have my ceremony on the Mall in Washington and I had to request a permit so that the parks service could find an open time.

    If they try to deny it on political reasons they can be sued for it, because of the first amendment, so there has to be a real danger to someone or something for the government to deny the permit.

  106. 106
    Mowgli says:

    @ Pangloss: So, so perfect and sadly, true.

  107. 107
    kay says:

    @cleek:

    b) she assumed everybody knew that she was speaking wingnut. they didn’t.

    They speak in a sort of code. Bush used it constantly. Whole phrases. Three words in a particular sequence can light up a whole area of outrage and long-held grievances.

  108. 108
    eric says:

    @Steve: One of the general misconceptions is that many/most of the early settlers came to escape religious persecution, and as a result, were against “establishment.” The truth is more complex. Many left because of the corruption of their national churches and sought to establish more “pure” churches free from the motherland’s control (and persecution). To that end, you had religious tests and persecution in most of the colonies. The Establishment Clause was a power sharing arrangement between the Southern Anglicans and the Northern Congregationalists.

    eric

  109. 109
    chopper says:

    @El Cid:

    you win the internet.

  110. 110
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Original Lee: It was years ago, but when I was on my law school’s National Moot Court Team, Regent was in one of our regional competitions (National Appellate Advocacy Competition) and their work was quite good. Their brief, IIRC, made the top ten of 30 (mine (I was briefwriter) was 6th). This doesn’t meant that ConLaw isn’t fucked there.

  111. 111
    lol says:

    @cleek:

    It’s awesome because Coons directly quoted the Constitution and then she said what he just said wasn’t anywhere in it.

  112. 112
    daveNYC says:

    Remember during the Health Care debate where Republicans were saying they couldn’t vote for the bill because it was longer than the Constitution? Now apparently the Constitution itself is too long.

    To be fair, they were probably just talking about the length of the original document. It’s been pretty obvious that they’re not big fans of most of the amendments.

    You know, an actual, informative, useful discussion about the role of religion in the public sphere which could win some people over to her point of view, create consensus, and help us put this endless debate to an end.

    The only way that debate will end is if the population of the United States is reduced to one person.

  113. 113
    Poopyman says:

    @Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther: Emily, you’re getting quite a workout from all the rocking. I think you should go outside and take a walk. It’ll do you good. The world is not coming to an end. Not because of these assclowns, anyway.

  114. 114
    Redshift says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): More generally, “you have the right to do this” doesn’t mean “government can never impose any limits whatsoever,” despite what Teabag Jesus has told his followers.

    Different people’s rights come into conflict, and different rights come into conflict, and people’s exercise of their rights come into conflict with other people’s everyday lives. Government manages these conflicts. The right to free assembly is not the right to go anywhere you want at any time.

  115. 115
    cleek says:

    @daveNYC:

    The only way that debate will end is if the population of the United States is reduced to one person

    i volunteer to be that person.

  116. 116
    El Cid says:

    @Linda Featheringill: Jesus doesn’t need Ted Nugent to be a Christian, as it’s Jesus who is honoring him.

  117. 117

    I saw that video over at Bob Cesca’s and I thought the audience laughter was in solidarity with O’Donnell … a kind of “heh heh heh she showed YOU, Coons!”

  118. 118
    New Yorker says:

    @Steve:

    The Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom predates the First Amendment. It’s there that you can find an explicit reference to a “wall of separation” between church and state.

  119. 119

    @El Cid:

    Jesus doesn’t need Ted Nugent to be a Christian, as it’s Jesus who is honoring him.

    Ahhh. I stand corrected.

    :-)

  120. 120
    Culture of Truth says:

    Most early settlers were kicked out of every decent country in the world.

  121. 121
    RSA says:

    @Brian S (formerly Incertus):
    __

    Would it be?

    No idea; it sounds like a penumbra sort of thing…

  122. 122
    El Cid says:

    @daveNYC: The only real Amendments are the 2nd and the 10th. All the others are anti-Constitutional librul fascism.

  123. 123
    Cris says:

    @cleek: i volunteer.

    To be the one person, or to be the agent of reduction?

  124. 124
    Mike E says:

    So nice of the BoB 9000 Computer to interpret the Constitution. What’s next, ABBA lyrics?

    The True Constitution is not known in words, but in the conservative heart

    This is because all their earthly copies were raptured-up. Also.

  125. 125
    El Cid says:

    This is the political movement for which asking Sarah Palin which newspapers she reads is an evil, unfair “gotcha” question by an America-hating librul medja journalist.

  126. 126
    Ash Can says:

    @Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther:

    ::hands Emily an open bottle of Stone’s Throw Reserve Merlot with a straw in it::

  127. 127
    Cris says:

    @Southern Beale: I saw that video over at Bob Cesca’s and I thought the audience laughter was in solidarity with O’Donnell … a kind of “heh heh heh she showed YOU, Coons!”

    Yeah, I think Christine thought so too.

    Keep in mind that the audience is “legal scholars and law students at Widener University Law School.” They’re not laughing with her.

  128. 128
    jonas says:

    Wasn’t her one-week seminar on the Constitution at the Claremont Institute supposed to make her a 9th-dan expert in constitutional law or something?

  129. 129
    morzer says:

    @cleek:

    Well, I think she and they should damn well learn to speak English, pay a fine and go to the back of the line.

  130. 130
    Culture of Truth says:

    If all the wingnuts in the US now left and formed their own country on the Moon, in 200 years it would be a violent ignorance-celebrating fast-food nation with more people in prison than in college.

  131. 131
    cleek says:

    @Cris:
    (updated to fix the ambiguity)

  132. 132
    El Cid says:

    @Mike E: You can’t be sure that the so-called “Constitution” shown to us as the historical document wasn’t faked in order to hide the true Constitution given to America by Moses.

  133. 133
    El Cid says:

    @Culture of Truth: It would not survive for 3 months.

  134. 134

    @Midnight Marauder:

    First, do you honestly believe that Christine O’Donnell would ever consider the question of the separation of church and state with the depth, nuance, and historical perspective with which your comment was imbued? If so, I would love to hear why exactly you believe O’Donnell is capable of such rigorous critical analysis.

    Frankly, I don’t know.

    It is entirely possible that she herself is just repeating a slogan/belief she holds without having done any further thought on what it actually means. She would not be the first politician to do so.

    I was just giving her the benefit of the doubt based on my own thoughts, discussions, and interactions with others on this topic.

  135. 135
    Dave S. says:

    @Southern Beale: I don’t see how you could come to that conclusion. As I think someone upthread noted, there was a mix of gasps and laughter more of disbelief (did she just say that?!) than of solidarity.

  136. 136
    Martin says:

    @Cris: This is where the obligatory link to The Anosognostic’s Dilemma comes in.

    Of course, that provides absolutely zero excuse for those that would vote for her.

  137. 137
    rickstersherpa says:

    Christine O’Donnell does have a great business plan. A Dauphin told the Duke,

    “Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?”

    I am afraid countrymen, Mark Twin nailed us down a long time ago.

  138. 138
    Steve says:

    @New Yorker: Did the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom coexist with the Anglican Church as the official church of Virginia?! I’m confused.

  139. 139
    Cris says:

    @Dave S.: plus you can hear muttering, including an audience member saying “see what I mean?”

    As I’ve seen written many times here and elsewhere: the best way to expose O’Donnell’s ignorance is to allow her to speak.

  140. 140
    Culture of Truth says:

    @El Cid: Probably right – but that’s a full tv season of episodes, if you see where I’m going….

  141. 141
    MikeJ says:

    @El Cid: Vault copy! We need to see the vault copy of the constitution!

  142. 142
    gogol's wife says:

    @jibeaux:

    It comes several minutes later. After they let her filibuster a while, Coons comes back to it. That’s when she says “THAT’s in the First Amendment?” and then looks conspiratorially at the crowd, which is again laughing at her.

  143. 143
    Mnemosyne says:

    @cleek:

    b) she assumed everybody knew that she was speaking wingnut. they didn’t.

    Fred Clark at Slacktivist has had some interesting stuff about O’Donnell and her difficulty in communicating when she steps outside of her evangelical Christian bubble.

  144. 144
    Mike E says:

    @El Cid: I trust Occam’s Razor on this one: Jesus engraved the “Constitution” on wax cylinders, where Thomas Edison completely missed it due to the fact he had ear herpes. Too.

  145. 145
    morzer says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    And doubtless a high circulation of the Washington Post.

  146. 146
    Innocent Bystander says:

    I thought this person was a Constitutional expert as she took a 1 week course at Right Wing Hack University? I can appreciate her lack of understanding the meaning of the words contained therein…but I’d have thought her course pass/fail would have required her to at least memorize the words.

    She is obviously incapable of self-reflection and unable to comprehend that her smugness over that ‘zinger’ to Coons was far more illuminating about her state of mind than any perceived hit to her opponent.

  147. 147
    Martin says:

    @Comrade Dread: Teabaggers and libertarians really only have one schtick – fit the facts to support their views. I would not be the least bit surprised to learn that even if she had read the first amendment, that a fit of involuntary blindness overcame her when she hit that clause.

  148. 148
    maus says:

    I think I like her better than Palin because so far I don’t see conservatives tripping all over each other to defend her idiocy just because she’s pretty (and a bit sexy, from the tawdry stories.)

    Is it actually silence, or are these stories just not filtering through the media to me? (I don’t watch tv.)

  149. 149
    David Brooks (not that one) says:

    @MikeJ: Oh, I don’t think things turned out too badly for that group of Jews. After a few years of living under threat of persecution, they started making a fetish out of martyrdom, and now they are the world’s dominant religion, especially in the political sphere.

    Go on, keep hating on those Muslims.
    ]

  150. 150
    Martin says:

    @Cris: Unfortunately, Palin learned how to counter that – make sure absolutely *everything* goes through your communications staff first.

  151. 151
    jay furman says:

    It is true, US Senators do not have to memorize the US Constitution, they do have to Uphold it. They are sworn in to uphold it. Does anyone out there swear to something they have not read, at least the first chapter, amendment? Is she that bloody blond under that brunette wig ?

  152. 152
    New Yorker says:

    @Steve:

    Not a scholar on this. All I know is that the Virginia Statute was established as law in 1786, so it predates the Constitution.

    I was also wrong about “wall of separation”. That phrase does no appear in the Virginia Statute, but in Jefferson’s letter to the Baptists of Danbury, CT. The whole “Baptists as persecuted minority” confused me.

  153. 153
    Cris says:

    @Innocent Bystander: She is obviously incapable of self-reflection and unable to comprehend that her smugness over that ‘zinger’ to Coons was far more illuminating about her state of mind than any perceived hit to her opponent.

    Multiple non-zinger zingers, really. She also hit him with “creationism and Intelligent Design are two different things” and the classic “evolution is just a theory.” And like you say, she exposed her ignorance with impressive smugness.

  154. 154
    Tsulagi says:

    @El Cid:

    I’m so glad our decision to bring freedom to Iraq diminished the power of Iran in the region.

    I kinda think it was Iran’s decision we bring that freedom letting Dick and George think it was their idea and take all the credit. As another positive, as I’m sure O’Donnell cheers, we helped get rid of that GodAllahdamned separation of chuch/mosque and government thingy. Not way down in any amendments, Iraq’s shiny new constitution CPA helped write begins with “There is no law before Islam.” The baby Jesus and surely O’Donnell weep ours doesn’t begin with no law before Him.

    Funny, normally a candidate well ahead in the polls avoids debates. But with Coons can see why apparently he welcomes them. Each one almost guarantees a stupid eruption from O’Donnell good for another couple of points.

    Seems the best way to campaign against a teabagger candidate is to get them talking. Then you find some of those real Americans think East German commies were on to something good, some like to play Nazi dressup, some go on and on about the menace of gays in Speedos, etc. It’s a big tent.

  155. 155
    mistersnrub says:

    OT:

    Remember, it’s all about deficits and concern over government spending:

    David Bartholomew, the (now ex-)chair of Virginia Beach’s Republican party, resigned late last night, only hours after his racist dog joke email surfaced and everyone got all mad at him. Here’s the joke, in case you want to send it to your buddies: MY DOG I went down this morning to sign up my Dog for welfare. At first the lady said, “Dogs are not eligible to draw welfare”. So I explained to her that my Dog is black, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and has no frigging clue who his Daddy is. So she looked in her policy book to see what it takes to qualify…My Dog gets his first check Friday. Is this a great country or what?

  156. 156
    Culture of Truth says:

    But the phrase intelligent design doesn’t appear in the Constitution!

  157. 157
    Martin says:

    Funny how the not-racist GOP keeps having to kick all of these racists out. Maybe they have a virus over there.

  158. 158
    Cris says:

    @Tsulagi: Each one almost guarantees a stupid eruption from O’Donnell good for another couple of points.

    And I’m going to hold out hope that said eruption splashes a little lava on other tea party candidates further from the epicenter.

  159. 159
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    Frankly, I don’t know.
    __
    It is entirely possible that she herself is just repeating a slogan/belief she holds without having done any further thought on what it actually means. She would not be the first politician Tea Party Republican to do so.

    Fixed slightly, because that’s the real issue in this cycle, I think; it’s the rise of Tea Party Republican candidates who are trying to sell themselves off as some kind of constitutional scholar, when in fact, they don’t even know the most basic aspects of how the United States of America functions on a daily basis. You’re talking about someone who is a perennial candidate for office, who only made it through this time because her political party decided to dive head-first off a 100 foot cliff into The Crazy. The woman has long been known as an incompetent grifter, which brings me to the other point you mention:

    I was just giving her the benefit of the doubt based on my own thoughts, discussions, and interactions with others on this topic.

    In what world is a candidate like Christine O’Donnell deserving of the benefit of the doubt on ANYTHING? Where is there serious doubt on what she believes and how she would perform/vote if elected to office? Are you seriously doubting that she is a religious zealot who knows nothing substantive about domestic or foreign policy? Where is the occurrence or information that would even serve as the foundation for such doubt?

  160. 160
    DonkeyKong says:

    At this rate come November 2nd we will all be Veronica Cartwright.

  161. 161
  162. 162
    Gravenstone says:

    Sounds like she needs to ask for her money back from the “comprehensive seminar on the Constitution” she attended a few years back. You know, the one she’s pointed to specifically when challenged previously on why she can claim to be a Constitutional scholar.

  163. 163
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @cleek:

    Except that (starting at about 5:55) Coons was quite clear in distinguishing decisional law from the Establishment Clause itself:

    “The First Amendment … establishes the separation — the fact that the federal government shall not establish any religion, and decisional law by the Supreme Court over many many decades clarifies and enshrines that there is a separation of church and state,” said Coons, a graduate of Yale Law School.
    __
    “So you’re telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?” interrupted O’Donnell.
    __
    “It is important for us in modern times to apply the Constitution as it exists today and as it has been interpreted by our justices,” continued Coons. “And if there are settled pieces of constitutional law, like the separation of church and state, like the individual right to reproductive freedom that Roe v. Wade represents, that we’ve lived with and under for decades, n my view it is important to know that on my side you have a candidate who believes and supports those things and on the other side a candidate who’s both unfamiliar with and …”

    And of course O’Donnell still didn’t get it:

    “So you’re telling me the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?” repeated O’Donnell.
    __
    “Government shall make no establishment of religion,” Coons replied.
    __
    “That’s in the First Amendment?” asked O’Donnell.

  164. 164
    Ash Can says:

    @mistersnrub: I’m pleasantly surprised to see that he resigned, rather than bleat endlessly that he was being misquoted and slandered by the librul press.

  165. 165
    Calliope Jane says:

    Wow.

    And I thought the candidate running against Giffords in AZ-08 was insane with his 10% tax idea. “If it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for us.” He said that in a debate. Is that a thing, now? He also said he wanted the federal government, the Department of Education, and Nancy Pelosi as far from his kid’s education as possible.

    He said all of this at a debate in a state university. He (and his supporters) were also opposed to promoting critical thinking skills in kids. Geniuses, really.

  166. 166
    Brachiator says:

    @Steve:

    I accept that the Bill of Rights only applied to the federal government at the outset. But if the Baptists were being persecuted in Virginia, did they really see this as helpful to their cause? The federal government wouldn’t persecute them, but the Anglican Church of Virginia would keep on doing it, right? Was their solution to up and leave Virginia as soon as the Constitution was ratified? I thought people who were being oppressed would want a set of rules that would stop their oppression, not perpetuate it.

    You’re looking at this the wrong way. Some states actually subsidized religion, taxed the general population to pay for churches that some did not attend. But people looked at themselves as citizens of their states as well as citizens of the United States.

    But in some places there was less overt religious discrimination than when the states were colonies, or under the Articles of Confederation. And Virginia, thanks in part to Thomas Jefferson, had a strong article respecting religious freedom:

    WE, the General Assembly of Virginia, do enact that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

    And of course, thanks to the Great Awakening and other outpourings of religious faith in America, Baptists, especially in the South, were soon calling the shots and becoming the de facto official state religion in many states.

  167. 167
    burnspbesq says:

    Here’s today’s obligatory Greenwald-bashing.

    I am at a loss to understand why Greenwald hasn’t gone ballistic over the Supreme Court’s decision to grant cert in Ashcroft v. al-Kidd.

    Yes, I think the Ninth Circuit’s opinion is on shaky ground doctrinally, especially the portion of its holding that says that there is no qualified immunity because it was “clearly established” in 2003 that using the material witness statute as a pretext to detain people while an investigation is ongoing (rather than to secure their appearance at trial) was improper.

    But if that’s not improper, then what the fuck IS improper? And if there is qualified immunity for DOJ personnel involved in such improper activity, how the fuck do you suppose it’s ever going to be curtailed?

    And the parade of horribles set forth in the DOJ petition for cert is massively over-the-top hysterical.

    C’mon, Greenie, get with the program. Critical aspects of our civil liberties are in peril – aren’t you supposed to respond in Pavlovian-ly predicable ways?

  168. 168
    MikeJ says:

    @Calliope Jane:

    “If it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for us.”

    But Jesus looked at a coin, saw whose picture was on it, and said you should give it all to that guy. Jesus didn’t say you should give him any money. He did have his followers sell all their possessions and live communistically though.

  169. 169
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tsulagi:

    I kinda think it was Iran’s decision we bring that freedom letting Dick and George think it was their idea and take all the credit.

    Notice how no one talks about the George Washington of Iraq, Ahmed Chalabi, very much anymore. Iran is probably still disappointed he couldn’t keep his con running long enough to get to run Iraq to their liking.

    Yet another reason I just can’t take Christopher Hitchens seriously on foreign policy: his hilarious claim that Chalabi didn’t get caught sending coded messages to Iran, he was secretly decoding them because he was such a math genius!

  170. 170
    wasabi gasp says:

    A deeper appreciation for the separation may require a description of the church’s bukaki lust for the state.

  171. 171
    kay says:

    @Calliope Jane:

    He also said he wanted the federal government, the Department of Education, and Nancy Pelosi as far from his kid’s education as possible.

    Yeah, well, they all ceded that argument with Bush, when they all supported massive, draconian, federal intervention in public schools.
    So conservatives can remove that from the roster of greatest hits, because no one who watched NCLB or abstinence education programs instituted under conservatives buys it.
    They’re full of shit. They love federal intervention in public schools, as long as conservatives are running it.

  172. 172
  173. 173

    @Midnight Marauder: Because I have more conservative friends than I which I talk politics with, and when we discuss matters involving church and state, inevitably when they say stuff like “Separation of Church and State isn’t in the Constitution”, when they elaborate, they are referring to the specific language.

    They object specifically to what they feel ‘separation of church and state’ means on a practical level: no prayer in schools, trying to get rid of ‘under God’ from the pledge, etc. In short, from their point of view, the ‘separation of church and state’ stands for the court rulings, the interpretation of the establishment clause, and the last 60 years of litigation by various parties trying to remove Ten Commandments displays, nativity sets, crosses from public seals and Federal lands, and the word “God” from the money. In general, it stands for what they see as a general moral decline in America.

    Others object to the loss of a national ethos of a watered down, generic, ‘Christian’ (in the most limited sense of the word) national civic faith which they see as prevalent in America in earlier times and which they believe contributed to our American exceptionalism.

    In short, they’re not stupid. They just interpret the establishment clause more conservatively than you do.

  174. 174
    brantl says:

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    This is a gross conceptual error on the part of Balloon Juice.

    The First Amendment prohibits the establishment of a State religion.

    The First Amendment does not exclude religion from State functions.

    Re

    Bill, I just started reading this, and I’m sure many people have already told you this, but you’re an idiot. I hope you change some day, but I doubt it. If you’re going to invite any religion in, then you need to invite all of them in. It’s just that damn simple, you moron.

  175. 175
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    @Bubblegum Tate:

    …aaaaaand here’s Mark Noonan proving me right:

    what O’Donnell asks is whether or not the 1st Amendment has “separation of Church and State” in it. As the above quote shows, it does not – we do not separate Church and State, we prohibit the government from establishing a Church, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. That is a very important difference.
    __
    Liberals want very much to have religion reduced to an entirely private affair – out of the public square, entirely.
    __
    That the MSM is playing this up shows that they, too, have a complete lack of knowledge of basic, Constitutional principles…. What this boils down to is the real debate – what we are arguing about: will we have a nation which obeys the actual Constitution, or a nation which obeys whatever fads liberals choose to assert are in the Constitution?

    Liberals and the hated MSM hate the Constitution and Christine O’Donnell’s superior knowledge of it!

  176. 176
    Meg says:

    @Zuzu’s Petals:

    Except that (starting at about 5:55) Coons was quite clear in distinguishing decisional law from the Establishment Clause itself:

    Thank you for pointing this out. Christine learned her “constitution” from her eight day training from her conservative think tank fellowship.
    Their main argument is that the phrase “separation of church and state” is not in the constitution. But she is dumb enough to not know what actually is said in it. And Coons deserves the applause for being precise about that and not falling for their trap.

  177. 177
    Cris says:

    @Bubblegum Tate:

    Mark Noonan: Liberals want very much to have religion reduced to an entirely private affair – out of the public square, entirely.

    Dear Mark,
    Since you’re such a literalist, where in the phrase “separation of Church and State” do you see “religion out of the public square, entirely?”

  178. 178
    Steve says:

    @burnspbesq: I am at a loss to understand how anyone could ever go ballistic over a decision to grant cert. They think the case is important enough to hear, so what?

  179. 179
    New Yorker says:

    Liberals want very much to have religion reduced to an entirely private affair – out of the public square, entirely.

    It’s a nice thought that the public square in 21st century America wouldn’t be plagued by the superstitions of 1st-century Judea, but I’m a bit of a realist here. It will never happen.

  180. 180
    Meg says:

    @Gravenstone:

    Sounds like she needs to ask for her money back from the “comprehensive seminar on the Constitution” she attended a few years back.

    I guess this is exactly what they taught her. But it backfired this time.

  181. 181
    Binzinerator says:

    Liberals want very much to have religion reduced to an entirely private affair – out of the public square, entirely.

    Didn’t Jesus want religion out of the public square too? IIRC He had some heavy-duty approbation dealt out in Matthew’s Gospel for those god-botherers who loved to pray in public gathering places and in the street.

    Goddam godless liberal Jesus.

  182. 182
    Iowa Housewife says:

    She probably literally thinks-

    1st ammendment: Free speech

    2nd ammendment: Own guns

    The End.

    (also too, mouse brains)

  183. 183
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    Because I have more conservative friends than I which I talk politics with, and when we discuss matters involving church and state, inevitably when they say stuff like “Separation of Church and State isn’t in the Constitution”, when they elaborate, they are referring to the specific language.

    Right, but as has been discussed at length in this thread, the fact that the specific language of “separation of church and state” is not in the amendment does not somehow mitigate the principal behind the amendment. Your conservative friends are making a distinction without a difference, for all intents and purposes. Moreover, this comment

    In short, they’re not stupid. They just interpret the establishment clause more conservatively than you do.

    does not hold up well when this element is also involved:

    In general, it stands for what they see as a general moral decline in America.

    And that’s what it all comes back to, really. The entire motivation behind conservatives challenging the separation of church and state is due to their firmly held belief that the United States of America was founded as a Christian Nation, and those evil, godless heathens have spent the past 60+ years turning their back to the righteous path God has laid out for America. The fact that they object to things like prayer in public schools and trying to eliminate “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance just demonstrates how unserious they are, since removing prayer from PUBLIC schools is one of the most basic elements covered under the idea of separation of church and state. Since, you know, the schools are not private entities, and as such, are not entitled to indoctrinate children into believing that Jesus Christ is the end-all, be-all of religion.

    Moreover, I’m not sure how your conservative friends distinguish between their objection to regulating prayer in public schools and efforts to remove Ten Commandments displays from state courthouses. It strikes me as the kind of distinction someone would make if they were pontificating emptily about how Christians are such a persecuted group in this country. Also, it would seem like your conservative friends are incapable of distinguishing between incidents like having a nativity scene on your front lawn and trying to erect crosses on public seals and Federal lands.

    Others object to the loss of a national ethos of a watered down, generic, ‘Christian’ (in the most limited sense of the word) national civic faith which they see as prevalent in America in earlier times and which they believe contributed to our American exceptionalism.

    Do you mean those earlier times when black people were considered 3/5 of a human being? Yeah? Fuck those times.

    In short, they’re not stupid. They just interpret the establishment clause more conservatively than you do.

    Distinction without a difference, this day and age.

  184. 184
    Brachiator says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    They object specifically to what they feel ‘separation of church and state’ means on a practical level: no prayer in schools, trying to get rid of ‘under God’ from the pledge, etc. In short, from their point of view, the ‘separation of church and state’ stands for the court rulings, the interpretation of the establishment clause, and the last 60 years of litigation by various parties trying to remove Ten Commandments displays, nativity sets, crosses from public seals and Federal lands, and the word “God” from the money. In general, it stands for what they see as a general moral decline in America.

    The irony of course, is that “under God” was added to the pledge in 1954, in part to prove that we were better than the godless Commies. Should we presume by this that the US was less moral before 1954? I understand where conservatives are coming from, but their idea that the past 60 years were a moral wilderness is artificial and arbitrary.

    Some conservatives have a fairy tale view of history that ignores the messy reality of a country which has never been embodied by any straightforward, generic Christianity.

    And so it’s not just that they interpret the establish clause more conservatively. It’s that they make stuff up.

  185. 185

    @Midnight Marauder:

    If you’re going to automatically assume bad faith on the part of people who disagree with you, then there’s no real point in debating.

    Everyone will continue to shout their pet slogans at one another, and our collective posterity will probably still be shouting slogans at one another without even attempting to debate, understand an opponent’s position, or attempt to reach a consensus.

  186. 186

    @Brachiator:

    I understand where conservatives are coming from, but their idea that the past 60 years were a moral wilderness is artificial and arbitrary.

    I agree. I don’t think men have gotten any less moral or more moral throughout history. We’re pretty much the same one generation to the next. Some of us just hide it better than others.

  187. 187
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    If you’re going to automatically assume bad faith on the part of people who disagree with you, then there’s no real point in debating.

    Sure there is, because a lot of people aren’t operating in good faith this day and age, and it’s an important part of the debate to be able to recognize that and respond accordingly. The entire Republican Party right now is operating in bad faith. The entire “Tea Party Movement” is built on the exact opposite of good faith. You’ve got Republicans who spend all their time on television railing against how evil and damaging the Recovery Act was/is, only to find out that they have been furiously busy writing letters to try and get a piece of that sweet, sweet ultra effective stimulus money for their respective district. Of course I’m going to operate on the principle that conservatives and Republicans are hardly operating in good faith. Why would I presume that to be the case when they have openly and explicitly stated otherwise?

    Everyone will continue to shout their pet slogans at one another, and our collective posterity will probably still be shouting slogans at one another without even attempting to debate, understand an opponent’s position, or attempt to reach a consensus.

    You are making a mistake in thinking that I do not understand that conservative position. Hell, I would argue most liberals understand the conservative “position” better than most conservatives do, since liberals actually take the time and effort to keep track of the ever-increasing bullshit talking points conservatives keep trotting out.

    Or, what Brachiator: said:

    Some conservatives have a fairy tale view of history that ignores the messy reality of a country which has never been embodied by any straightforward, generic Christianity.
    __
    And so it’s not just that they interpret the establish clause more conservatively. It’s that they make stuff up.

  188. 188
    Allan says:

    Christine would have been correct if she had made the “air quotes” gesture in the air each time she said “separation of church and state.” Failing to do so was her only mistake.

    /wingnut

  189. 189
  190. 190
    Lex says:

    I don’t know whether this constitutes a politics comment or a rescued-animals comment, but:

    This Kitten Knows More About the Constitution than Christine O’Donnell.

Comments are closed.