About This Site

Figaro rips the innards out of things people say and reveals the rhetorical tricks and pratfalls. For terms and definitions, click here.
(What are figures of speech?)
Ask Figaro a question!

This form does not yet contain any fields.

    « Fry Up Some Words | Main | George Philip’s Awesome Impactfulness »

    How Well Do You Know the Constitution?

    Given all the rhetoric about the secret government plot to undermine the Constitution, we wondered how many people had actually read the document.  So we put together a quiz.  After you take it, come on back and comment. 

    Take the Quiz.

    Already taken it? How’d you do? If you got a perfect score, then you can join the Founders’ celestial kaffeeklatch when you die.  If you scored above 80, then you’re an Ideal Citizen—someone who actually read the darn thing instead of just mouthing off about it.  If you barely passed with a score of 70, congratulate yourself; most people fail it. I haven’t met a lawyer yet who passed.

    And what if you flunked? Then you qualify to join the distinguished faculty of Glenn Beck’s Beck University.

    Add more of your own questions in the comments here, and, like the Constitution itself, we’ll make amendments.

    PrintView Printer Friendly Version

    EmailEmail Article to Friend

    Reader Comments (30)

    Nope, I didn't quite pass, but it looks like I still can't join Glenn Beck's faculty... there's not a single woman on the list!
    October 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlouise
    Your official answer to question 9 seems quite wrong. This clause:

    "The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority..."

    ...doesn't give the Supreme Court the authority to strike down treaties, just to interpret them.
    October 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaco
    I did much worse than I expected to. I can't complain about the stuff I didn't know; that's my own fault. But I think some of the questions reveal more about test-taking skill than knowledge of the Constitution, per se.

    In particular, the wording of Q9 focuses on the number of states, rather than the means used. Q13 has nothing to do with knowledge of the constitution (and your answer switches from participation (numbers) to participation rates (percentage)).

    Your answer to Q11 doesn't sound right to me, and I'd appreciate some explanation.
    October 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoug
    Paco, judicial power does indeed mean the ability to strike down.
    October 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Doug, I'll definitely admit to a trick question or two; it seems interesting to me that the Constitution ordered conventions, not legislatures, for ratification. A careful reading of the Constitution (REALLY careful) should trigger the proper response.

    Because the questions shuffle each time they're taken, I'm not sure which one doesn't seem right to you. Tell me the question and I'll do my best to explain.

    I'll continue to revise the quiz as I go. So please continue to point out any perceived wrong-headedness or unfairness.

    October 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Louise, I'm sure Glenn Beck would welcome a right-minded woman. How badly did you do on the quiz?

    Full disclosure: a very bright college classmate of mine happens to be on the faculty of Beck University. Very surprising.
    October 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    It seems a tad unfair, however true it could be, to label Beck and his followers as being ignorant of the contents of the Constitution. In priinciple, they mostly want to roll back the amendments they see as disruptive to the free market, such as the Federal income tax. Isn't this part of the libertarian philosophy, which isn't exactly new? This is a debate that has its roots in classical liberalism and has been a part of our history for the last hundred or so years. (Although, Beck is more of a--to use a term the New Yorker recently coined--neo-John Birtcher.)
    October 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarco
    You're right about striking down treaties. On reflection, I was just annoyed that it's such a picky test overall. Figaro, how would you have done on the test? Were all these questions off the top of your head?
    October 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaco
    I LIKE to think I would have passed, Paco, but probably not by much. I set up the test because I was tired of people lecturing me on the Constitution without having given it a close read themselves.

    Picky? Yeah, undoubtedly, and I'll tweak the exam once I see the stats. But the Constitution is a remarkably short document; it's not hard to read it all a few times. Anyone who does, I'm convinced, will pass.
    October 22, 2010 | Registered CommenterFigaro
    Marco, the John Birchers weren't Libertarians. They were anti-Communists; and they used Communist tactics to fight the red scourge. Beck is indeed a Bircher, using the same tactics. But where's the red scourge?

    The Birchers, and Beck, also believe that the Constitution has been under attack since Woodrow Wilson--one of the presidents, Beck says, we should "hate." This is no Libertarianism; it's fictional history.

    I'm I being unfair nonetheless? Sigh. Probably. This is rhetoric, not some ethical, organized, cheat-free system like Major League Baseball or the Tour de France.
    October 22, 2010 | Registered CommenterFigaro
    That wasn't so bad...maybe all the mandatory reading of the constitution in Parisi's AP American Studies class DID pay off!
    October 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterD Jr.
    The previous poster is the daughter of a proud Figaro. She scored 100% on the test, completing it in 1 minute 45 seconds, without any help--except for Mr. Parisi, an AP teacher in Fairfield, Connecticut, whose other claim to fame is having once competed on "American Gladiator."

    Ah, if only the nation were filled with Parisis and civics classes.
    October 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    I agree that Brichers and Libertarians are different in many respects. They both, however, staunchly and unremittingly promote the laissez faire economics over the more socialistic models. The biggest difference between the two groups in this respect has to do the element of fear. That is, Libertarians fear that the market won't work properly, while the John Birchers of the world fear that their tin foil hat isn't thick enough to prevent Nazi-built satellites from transmitting Marxists brain waves into their heads. As you say, theirs is a fictional history.

    Currently, I would say that it's not a bad thing to conflate the two, as they seem to be breeding. See Rand Paul.
    October 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarco
    Or interbreeding, is what I should say.
    October 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarco
    We would dispute your division between laissez faire and socialism, Marco. You leave out a wide range in the middle, from conservatism to modern liberalism.
    October 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Eek -- I thought I was smart & well read, but I got a 46%. Gee, high school wasn't all that long ago... was it?

    Thanks for the humility boost, Fig.
    October 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterContent
    "Because the questions shuffle each time they're taken, I'm not sure which one doesn't seem right to you. Tell me the question and I'll do my best to explain."

    Oops. The question is, "Can the President require his Cabinet secretaries to be religious, so long as he doesn't specify the religion?"

    My misgivings arise because the Constitution says so little about the Cabinet in the first place, and the Establishment clause specifically limits Congress (and the states, thx to the 14th amendment). How does the Const. limit Presidential appointments?
    October 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoug
    The question comes out of Article 6 of the Constitution, which forbids religious tests for members of Congress as well as all "executive and judicial officers." Article 6 doesn't specifically mention Cabinet secretaries, but they would obviously be included.

    You're right that the Cabinet is barely mentioned in the Constitution. The idea of an executive council was argued for weeks. The only reference to it appears in Article 2: The President " may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices."
    October 25, 2010 | Registered CommenterFigaro
    Love your attitude, Content. Thanks to my easier grading, you were only 4% away from passing!
    October 25, 2010 | Registered CommenterFigaro
    I'm going to take a step back and ask further explanation from Figaro. I'm sure I understand there exists various options for a person to chose. But how does that applies to the Libertarian philosophy?
    October 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarco

    PostPost a New Comment

    Enter your information below to add a new comment.

    My response is on my own website »
    Author Email (optional):
    Author URL (optional):
    All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.