Polls

More Than a Third of Americans Have No Idea What the First Amendment Says

And 20 percent don't know atheists have the same rights as everyone else.

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This morning, my colleague Robby Soave shared the troubling finding that 44 percent of students at four-year universities wrongly believe that the Constitution doesn't protect hate speech. I have some more bad news: Ignorance about our foundational liberties does not stop at the college campus' edge.

When pollsters from the Annenberg Public Policy Center asked what rights the First Amendment protects, fewer than half of American adults (48 percent) were able to conjure the words "freedom of speech"—and that was the most popular answer. Just 15 percent came up with "freedom of religion." Nintey-seven out of 100 did not remember that petitioning the government is covered.

Overall, more than a third (37 percent) said they didn't know or couldn't name any rights protected by the First Amendment.

Results from the Annenberg study
Annenberg Public Policy Center

The survey was conducted in mid-August and released last week to commemorate the 230th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, which was Sunday.

Beyond the less-than-confidence-inspiring responses to the query about the First Amendment, the poll also found that a third of Americans could not name any of the three branches of government, and that one in five did not realize atheists have the same constitutional rights as other Americans.

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  1. …my colleague Robby Soave…

    Who?

      1. “More Than a Third of Americans Have No Idea What the First Amendment Says.”

        Well, at least we know what it doesn’t say. Surely no one here would dare to defend the “First Amendment dissent” of a single, isolated judge in America’s leading criminal “satire” case? See the documentation at:

        https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

  2. And of the 14% who knew “freedom of the press” I bet almost all of them think that means reporters for news outlets, not the printing press.

    1. I always tell people that “The Press” is simply the act of spreading information, not a career as “official” press.

  3. Fact: in 2017 over a third of Americans have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

    1. In comparative ethnic basket-weaving? In animal rights? In Mohammedan or Mormon Theology? How many undergraduates in chemistry, physics and math?

      1. How many undergraduates in chemistry, physics and math?

        In CJ’s defense, Imma guess that the number has only gone up since 1980, 1880, and 1780.

    2. Not much of a surprise. A trained monkey could get a degree. People like to pretend it actually means something, but the vast majority of the time, it does not. Evaluate people based on their actual accomplishments, not based on whether or not they have a piece of paper.

  4. I do hope that no party gets the votes for a constitutional convention. There are too many ‘tards nowadays and the results would be detrimental.

  5. So 20% believe that atheists don’t have the same constitutional rights? Depending on the way the question is phrased, that could be socons saying that the constitution wasn’t meant to protect “no religion” or it could be atheists complaining that their constitutional rights are being respected. Or a combination.

    1. aren’t being respected.

      EDIT BUTTON!

    2. Replace the christianofascist a-word with “non-superstitious” and see if the results change.

      1. Bless you.

  6. “…one in five did not realize atheists have the same constitutional rights as other Americans.”

    Well, one in five are correct:
    “Atheists Are Banned From Holding Public Office In Seven US States”
    https://news.vice.com/art icle/atheists-are-banned-fro m-holding-public-of fice-in-seven-us-states

    So how was the question phrased? Whether atheists actually do have the same rights or whether the Constitution says they do?

    1. On the Wikipedia, freethinkers like Ayn Rand and Alan Greenspan are labeled “atheists” but Karl Marx, Lenin and Stalin aren’t.

      1. Don’t worry. It’s not an omission, they’re just choosing sides.

      2. Which is mostly accurate, as Lenin and Stalin believed themselves to be supreme beings that must be obeyed or the consequences would be…severe.

  7. Overall, more than a third (37 percent) said they didn’t know or couldn’t name any rights protected by the First Amendment.

    How awful! Can we get their info so we can make sure they’re all registered to vote next election? /Democrat party

  8. RE: More Than a Third of Americans Have No Idea What the First Amendment Says
    And 20 percent don’t know atheists have the same rights as everyone else

    Refresh my memory.
    Why are we giving billions of dollars to public education again?

    1. Indoctrination

  9. I generally maintain fairly low expectations of the general population. And then… then they go and make me realize that I’m simply not even close to pessimistic enough.

    1. *Hands Curt a big bottle of Jameson’s*

      Here, have a few swigs of this. It’ll help numb the pain.

      1. Do you have any Old Baileys you would like hand out?

      2. *Takes a swig*

        That’s a good start. But, after killing the whole bottle of whiskey, popping some pills, chopping a few lines, huffing a bunch of glue, and eating a bag of cheetos, I’d still provide more correct answers than at least 90% of those surveyed.

        *Takes a couple more swigs and goes back to working on finance spreadsheets*

  10. Stephanie might try reading the whole Bill of Rights herself, and pause at “the free exercise thereof…” Sending men with guns to threaten doctors and pregnant ladies (members of “All persons born…”) to please the Holy Father of the Vatican is “coercive exercise” of religious bigotry. The Second Amendment’s “existence of a free State” is just as invisible to congregants of the communist faith. But the point is that they whose either-or dispenses with reason and freedom to instead embrace faith and coercion have to twist and mutilate the Bill of Rights and the 13th and 14th Amendments to put their initiation of force and violation of individual rights in softer contrast with reality.

    1. What men with guns are threatening pregnant ladies? Or doctors? Please elaborate. Because there is no woman of child bearing age in this country that has ever not had the right to an abortion, so you must be talking about something else.

  11. Overall, more than a third (37 percent) said they didn’t know or couldn’t name any rights protected by the First Amendment.

    So the University system is working as planned.

  12. When … asked what rights the First Amendment protects,

    what percentage had *no clue* about to what the question referred?

  13. Perhaps it is time to bring back classes in civics and American government. When people who can’t name the 3 branches of government and have no idea what the Bill of Rights contains, vote despite their ignorance of the basic structrue of a free government- you get Donald Trump, whose knowledge of the Constitution and the other foundational documents is sketchy at best and non-existant at worst. Yet, he was able to convince people that someone who knew nothing about governing was capable of being president because he reflected exactly their total lack of knowledge. They elected one of their own and the country suffers.

    1. Perhaps it is time to bring back classes in civics and American government. When people who can’t name the 3 branches of government and have no idea what the Bill of Rights contains, vote despite their ignorance of the basic structrue of a free government- you get Barack Obama, whose knowledge of the Rules for Radicals and the other Socialist documents is in depth. Yet, he was able to convince people that someone who knew nothing about governing was capable of being president because he reflected exactly their equal knowledge. They elected one of their own and the country suffers.

  14. Freedom OF speech and religion, not freedom FROM speech and religion that you don’t like.

  15. Down along our southern border we have folks who cross over, get themselves in legal trouble, and are Utterly Surprised that the (U.S.) Bill of Rights doesn’t apply in Mexico.

  16. Given some of the statistics in this article I suspect there are a substantial number of Americans who are unaware that the United States even has a Constitution!

    Instead of teaching students about “micro-aggressions” (see the video) perhaps US colleges might start teaching them some basic civics courses.They don’t seem to learn about such things in school.

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