O'Donnell Gets Church & State, Coons Doesn't Know First

Christine O'Donnell will take lots of heat for asking opponent Chris Coons where in the first amendment it says anything about the Separation of Church and State as the Delaware senate candidates debated today. But it was the Tea Party gal who showed the constitutional finesse.

Delaware GOP Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell questioned on Tuesday whether the Constitution provides for the separation of church and state.

The comment came during a debate on WDEL radio with Democratic opponent Chris Coons, who argued that local schools should teach science rather than religion, at which point O’Donnell jumped in. “Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?” she asked.

The audience at Widener Law School was taken aback, with shouts of “whoa” and laughter coming from the crowd.

O'Donnell was absolutely right, of course. The concept of Separation of Church and State isn't part of the Constitution. And she was sure of this - notice the confidence with which she chased Coons on the matter.

Coons then pointed to the First Amendment, which states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

“You’re telling me the First Amendment does?” O’Donnell interrupted to ask.

Following the next question, Coons revisited the remark — likely thinking he had caught O’Donnell in a flub — saying, “I think you’ve just heard from my opponent in her asking ‘where is the separation of church and state’ show that she has a fundamental misunderstanding.”

“That’s in the First Amendment?” O’Donnell again asked.

“Yes,” Coons responded.

O'Donnell then turned things around on Coons, asking him what the rights guaranteed by the first amendment were, and it turned out that it was him who didn't know his Constitution.

O’Donnell was later able to score some points of her own off the remark, revisiting the issue to ask Coons if he could identify the “five freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment.”

Coons named the separation of church and state, but could not identify the others — the freedoms of speech, press, to assemble and petition — and asked that O’Donnell allow the moderators ask the questions.

“I guess he can’t,” O’Donnell said.

The media is making all kinds of hay over the O'Donnell "gaff," which didn't occur... but nothing of the Coons gaff, which did occur. That's life with the liberal media for you.