Nation speaks up for First Amendment

September 17, 2013, 7:11 PM GMT+0

Americans may be divided on how to interpret the constitution, but half the public agree that the First Amendment is their favorite.

Today is Constitution Day, the day where for the past nine years all federally-funded educational institutions have been required to provide additional instruction on the US Constitution and its meaning. This September also marks 225 years since the Constitution was ratified by the states. The US constitution is one of the oldest constitutions still in force and has served as inspiration for the constitutions of many countries. The Constitution itself details the functions of the federal government and individual rights are granted by the first ten amendments to the Constitution, collectively known as the Bill of Rights.

The latest YouGov research shows that the First Amendment to the Constitution - the one that guarantees freedom of speech, assembly and religion - is the favorite amendment for 50% of the country. At a distant second place, the Second Amendment - which guarantees the right to bear arms - is the favorite amendment of 15% of Americans. There is a significant divide according to age, with under-30s being significantly less likely to say that the Second Amendment is their favorite than over-30s. Both the Fourth (9%), which protects against unreasonable search and seizure and the Fifth (7%), which protects against self-incrimination and double jeopardy, are more popular among under-30s than the Second.

When asked how the Supreme Court should interpret the Constitution, the Public are sharply divided along partisan lines. Republicans (80%) overwhelmingly think that the Constitution should be interpreted according to 'original intent' while Democrats (62%) tend to think that the Constitution should be interpreted according to what the text means today. Independents are essentially split but slightly more support original intent (56%) than interpretation according to current meaning (44%).

The research shows that just over a quarter of Americans (26%) know their Constitution well - knowing that it is the Sixth Amendment that guarantees the right to a speedy and public trial. 28% know that the Tenth Amendment reserves powers not specifically given to the federal government for the states. A majority of Americans (64%) know that the Second Amendment is the one that guarantees the right to bear arms, while 66% spotted a trick and knew that the phrase 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' appears in the Declaration of Independence and not the Constitution.

Full results can be found here.

Image: Getty.

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