2010 PJP Fellow Lion Calandra Asks: “Why do Americans get the Constitution so wrong?”

“Recently, I was standing in line at a movie house behind a woman who objected to the theater’s policy of searching purses and backpacks. She indignantly told a theater employee that her purse could not be inspected, citing the Fourth Amendment’s protection against illegal searches. She did not know that, in general, the Fourth Amendment does not apply to private businesses – only to governments. The movie theater has a right to require a bag search; she has the right to take her business elsewhere.”

So writes 2010 PJP Fellow Lion Calandra in a piece published in the Christian Science Monitor. But Calandra’s fellow moviegoer pales in her constitutional ignorance when compared to many government servants. Calandra cites Sen. Roland Burris “quoting” the Constitution’s as providing “for the health, welfare, and defense of the country.” No such words appear in the document. She cites Sen. John Conyers of Michigan referencing the “good and welfare clause” of the U.S. Constitution. There is no such clause. Even President Barack Obama has tripped up, referencing, in his first State of the Union speech, “the promise enshrined in our Constitution: the notion that we’re all created equal.” The “all men are created equal” line is actually from the Declaration of Independence.

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