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Sunday, September 17, 2023

Knowing the Constitution

From the Annenberg Public Policy Center:

Many Americans do not know what rights are protected under the First Amendment and a substantial number cannot name all three branches of government, according to the 2023 Annenberg Constitution Day Civics Survey.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center’s annual, nationally representative survey finds that when U.S. adults are asked to name the specific rights guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution, only one right is recalled by most of the respondents: Freedom of speech, which 77% named.

The civics knowledge survey, released annually to celebrate Constitution Day (Sept. 17), also finds that although two-thirds of Americans (66%) can name all three branches of government, 10% can name two, 7% can name only one, and 17% cannot name any.

As in the recent past, the Annenberg Constitution Day Civics Survey was fielded in a year of high-profile events that propelled the workings of government into the daily news cycle. This year saw four criminal indictments of former President Donald Trump and numerous trials for those charged in the 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol. Led by a conservative supermajority, the U.S. Supreme Court sidelined race-conscious college admissions programs and a Biden Administration student-loan forgiveness plan. Several of the associate justices were dogged by allegations of unethical conduct. A plea deal to resolve a gun charge and tax offenses by President Joe Biden’s son Hunter collapsed, while in Congress, Republican Representatives discussed whether to open impeachment proceedings against Biden.

“It is worrisome that one in six U.S. adults cannot name any of the branches of government and that only 1 in 20 can name all five freedoms protected by the First Amendment,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center and director of the survey. “One is unlikely to cherish or work to protect freedoms one does not know one has and will have trouble holding elected and unelected leaders accountable if one does not understand the nature and prerogatives of each branch and the ways in which the power of each is kept in check.”