Saturday, January 15, 2011

Constitutional Ignorance

This article reports that surveys of average Americans and elected officials finds that the elected officials know even less than average Americans about the Constitution:
For five years now, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute has been conducting a national survey to gauge the quality of civic education in the country. We've surveyed more than 30,000 Americans, most of them college students, but also a random sample of adults from all educational and demographic backgrounds.

Included in the adult sample was a small subset of Americans (165 in all) who, when asked, identified themselves as having been "successfully elected to government office at least once in their life" -- which can include federal, state or local offices.


But those elected officials who took the test scored an average 5 percentage points lower than the national average (49 percent vs. 54 percent), with ordinary citizens outscoring these elected officials on each constitutional question.
Some of the examples of questions on the test include where "separation of church and state" appears in the Constitution.  (It doesn't.)  So perhaps Republicans opening the House of Representatives with a reading of the Constitution isn't just a dumb stunt after all.


  1. Kind of like the Maine Governor who thought that if 35 states joined a law against Health Care Reform it "dies, automatically".

  2. Unfortunately, being intelligent or well educated is not a requirement for holding high public office. It sometimes seem like it might be an active disqualifier.