by Matt Barr
A Constitution quiz you can use
Today is Constitution Day, which we're celebrating tomorrow. I put off my shopping till the last minute, as usual.
To celebrate the anniversary of the day the framers dotted the i's and crossed the t's, the Chronicle of Higher Education graced us with a quiz on the Constitution. There you'll find the highly original complaints that the Constitution was put together by rich white men and the President is a tyrant. Here at Socratic Rhythm Method, we celebrate the right way. Here then is a Constitution Day quiz you can use.
1. The Constitution mentions God:
A. In the Preamble
B. In the presidential oath of office
D. No, it doesn't
2. Which of these persons whose portraits grace U.S. currency did not sign the Constitution?
A. Thomas Jefferson
B. George Washington
C. Ben Franklin
D. Alexander Hamilton
3. Who opposed Jefferson's harebrained idea that the Constitution should be set aside and rewritten every generation?
A. Alexander Hamilton
B. James Madison
C. Gouverneur Morris
D. George Washington
4. Which of the following amendments would the Constitution forbid?
A. An amendment establishing Presbyterianism as the official religion of the United States
B. An amendment giving California an extra Senator
C. An amendment fixing the size of the Supreme Court at an even number of judges
D. An amendment providing for a nationwide popular vote for President
5. A Bill of Rights proposed by James Madison in Congress in 1789 would have provided that:
A. The judicial branch could not exercise the legislative power
B. Political speech could not be restricted within 60 days of an election
C. Private property could not be taken in eminent domain for other than public use
D. No search would be reasonable without a warrant
6. The General Welfare clause, according to the Supreme Court:
A. Has no legal force and effect, being part of the Preamble
B. Is a limitation on the power of Congress to spend on local projects
C. Authorizes New Deal-type legislation during widespread economic depression
D. Is an expansion of Congress's powers enumerated in Article I
7. Which of these bodies of federal law is not specifically authorized by the Constitution?
8. Which of these cases has been cited the most often in subsequent Supreme Court opinions?
A. McCulloch v. Maryland
B. Gideon v. Wainwright
C. New York Times Co. v. Sullivan
D. Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. NRDC
9. Not an early fan of the Constitution:
C. North Carolina
D. Rhode Island
[T]he longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth -- that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it possible that an empire can rise without his aid?
10. Who said this?
A. James Madison, in A Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, 1785
B. Ben Franklin, during the Constitutional Convention of 1787
C. George Mason, during the Virginia ratification convention, 1788
D. George Washington, in his farewell address, 1796
1. C. The signatures are prefaced as follows:
Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth
Good enough to win a bar bet!
2. A. Jefferson was in France at the time.
3. B. Madison addressed the argument in Federalist No. 49:
[A]s every appeal to the people would carry an implication of some defect in the government, frequent appeals would, in a great measure, deprive the government of that veneration which time bestows on every thing, and without which perhaps the wisest and freest governments would not possess the requisite stability....
The danger of disturbing the public tranquillity by interesting too strongly the public passions, is a still more serious objection against a frequent reference of constitutional questions to the decision of the whole society. Notwithstanding the success which has attended the revisions of our established forms of government, and which does so much honor to the virtue and intelligence of the people of America, it must be confessed that the experiments are of too ticklish a nature to be unnecessarily multiplied.
4. B. Article V forbids depriving a state of its equal suffrage in the Senate without its consent, including by amendment -- Article V deals exclusively with the amendment of the Constitution. An amendment granting California extra Senators would deprive the other 49 of equal suffrage.
5. A. Amendments offered in Congress by Madison, many of which were incorporated into the ratified Bill of Rights, included the following provision:
The powers delegated by this Constitution are appropriated to the departments to which they are respectively distributed: so that the Legislative Department shall never exercise the powers vested in the Executive or Judicial, nor the Executive exercise the powers vested in the Legislative or Judicial, nor the Judicial exercise the powers vested in the Legislative or Executive Departments.
6. D. In U.S. v. Butler (1936), Justice Roberts wrote for the Court:
Since the foundation of the nation, sharp differences of opinion have persisted as to the true interpretation of the phrase. Madison asserted it amounted to no more than a reference to the other powers enumerated in the subsequent clauses of the same section; that, as the United States is a government of limited and enumerated powers, the grant of power to tax and spend for the general national welfare must be confined to the enumerated legislative fields committed to the Congress. In this view the phrase is mere tautology, for taxation and appropriation are or may be necessary incidents of the exercise of any of the enumerated legislative powers. Hamilton, on the other hand, maintained the clause confers a power separate and distinct from those later enumerated is not restricted in meaning by the grant of them, and Congress consequently has a substantive power to tax and to appropriate, limited only by the requirement that it shall be exercised to provide for the general welfare of the United States. Each contention has had the support of those whose views are entitled to weight. This court has noticed the question, but has never found it necessary to decide which is the true construction.
Mr. Justice Story, in his Commentaries, espouses the Hamiltonian position. We shall not review the writings of public men and commentators or discuss the legislative practice. Study of all these leads us to conclude that the reading advocated by Mr. Justice Story is the correct one. While, therefore, the power to tax is not unlimited, its confines are set in the clause which confers it, and not in those of section 8 which bestow and define the legislative powers of the Congress. It results that the power of Congress to authorize expenditure of public moneys for public purposes is not limited by the direct grants of legislative power found in the Constitution.
(Footnotes omitted and paragraph break added.)
7. C. Article I, Section 8 provides specifically for the others. Perhaps interestingly (or perhaps not), an amendment was passed by Congress that would have empowered Congress to "limit, regulate, and prohibit the labor of persons under eighteen years of age." Its ratification failed, and in the meantime, the Supreme Court held that labor laws, including child labor laws, were generally the purview of Congress under the Commerce clause.
8. C. According to this source, only Miranda v. Arizona has been cited more often by the Supreme Court than New York Times v. Sullivan. The source's methodology is briefly described at the end of that page.
9. D. Rhode Island sent no delegates to the Constitutional Convention, refused to call a ratification convention until threatened with economic sanctions by the new government, and ratification passed only narrowly, 34-32. More information can be found here.
10. B. Franklin's speech is often cited as evidence of America's Christian heritage, but in truth it dealt only with the matter of whether sessions of the Convention should begin with prayer. The Convention appears not to have adopted the resolution providing for daily prayer that the speech meant to support.
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