MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Last night’s Good to Know received a lot of negative responses. It was about a Senate debate in Delaware between Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell and Chris Coons, a Democrat. O’Donnell indicated in her remarks that the separation of church and state didn’t appear in the Constitution. Don Shelby has a follow up for the critics.
It was suggested that I should read the First Amendment before judging a candidate on her knowledge. I have not only read it, but for 45 years the words have always looked back at me on my desk.
It says, among other things, that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. It has come to be known as the “establishment clause” or the “separation clause.”
Supreme Courts, down through our history, have tried to divine what the framers meant. They study the Constitution, the Federalist Papers and the framers’ contemporary writings.
Thomas Jefferson, who knew what the original intent was, called it the clause that separated church and state. Later Supreme Court decisions found such a separation, and Congress passed laws, making the separation of church and state Constitutional Law, even though the sentence doesn’t appear in the original document.
I checked with a Federal Court judge today, just to make sure. That words aren’t expressly mentioned in the Constitution doesn’t mean a whole lot. Privacy isn’t guaranteed in the original document, but it is the Constitutional law of the land.
The critics were right about one thing. I wish I had mentioned that, in the debate, the Democrat, Coons, couldn’t enumerate the five freedoms protected by the First Amendment.
Really, the people of Delaware have a tough choice in this lawmakers’ race this November. They winner swears to uphold the Constitution of the United States, not just the part written in 1780s, but the whole of it, as amended and adjudicated, down to the present day.