A judge in Xenia, Ohio said “there will be no mentioning of the Constitution” during a trial of a journalist who is charged with a misdemeanor after he was cited for protesting against an anti-panhandling ordinance.
Judge Kathryn Barber laughed when the defendant, Virgil Vaduva, argued his protest on a public sidewalk outside the Xenia police station constitutes free speech.
The exchange between Barber and Vaduva occurred after a prosecutor said mentioning the Constitution during the trial would “confuse the jury.”
Widespread Ignorance of Constitution
Many Americans are surprisingly ignorant of the Constitution and the founding principles of the United States.
An informal ABC News poll conducted in 2011 revealed that 70 percent of 1,000 people surveyed could not identify the supreme law of the land (the Constitution).
“Sixty-one percent didn’t know that the length of a U.S. senator’s term is six years, 63 percent couldn’t name the number of Supreme Court justices on the bench (nine), and 86 percent didn’t know that 435 members fill the U.S. House of Representatives,” ABC News reported.
Earlier polls show ignorance of the Constitution is a long standing problem. For example, a 1998 Luntz Research survey showed 59 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds identified Moe, Larry and Curly while only 41 percent correctly cited the legislative, executive and judicial branches, according to the CATO Institute.
“The National Constitution Center interviewed 1,000 adults and found that 24 percent cannot name a single right guaranteed by the First Amendment. Only 6 percent can cite freedoms of speech, press, assembly and religion. Fifty-two percent do not know the Senate has 100 members. One in six believes the Constitution created a Christian nation.”