Nearly Half Of Americans Grasp The First Amendment About As Well As Sarah Palin Does
More than 4 in 10 Americans think the First Amendment protects them from being fired for what they say, and more than 3 in 10 think it applies to situations like A&E's now-revoked suspension of "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson, according to a HuffPost/YouGov poll. But they're wrong.
In the new survey, 45 percent of Americans said the First Amendment does not allow people to be fired from a job for expressing their views, while only 36 percent said such firings are allowed under the Constitution. Twenty percent said they weren't sure.
Moreover, 35 percent think the First Amendment does not allow a television network to suspend an on-screen personality for expressing a politically incorrect point of view, while 43 percent said such a suspension is permitted under the Constitution. Another 22 percent said they weren't sure.
In fact, the amendment -- which starts with the phrase "Congress shall make no law" -- protects Americans only against the government's intrusion into free speech and does not apply to the acts of private employers. But that didn't stop politicians and others from weighing in after "Duck Commander" Phil Robertson was suspended by A&E in December for comments he made about homosexuality and pre-civil-rights-era race relations that many people found offensive.