Five for Friday: Constitution Day

September 17 was Constitution Day.  Earlier this week, the Vermont Bar Association and the Vermont Judiciary teamed to present a Constitution Day panel, part of an ongoing collaboration to promote the Constitution, civics, and the importance of both the separation of powers & the rule of law.

I was fortunate to be asked to moderate a fantastic panel that included (in order of appearance):

  • Superior Judge Robert Mello who spoke on the origins of the Constitution & the Bill of Rights;
  • Associate Justice Beth Robinson who used the 8th Amendment to present a case study, one in which she engaged the audience on different methods of interpreting the text;
  • Associate Justice John Dooley who spoke on the 14th Amendment and the relation between the federal and state constitutions;
  • Superior Judge Nancy Waples who used a personal story to highlight the connection between the Constitution and Citizenship; and,
  • Chief Justice Paul Reiber who pointed out how radical it was, at least 229 years ago, to design a government in which each of the branches had “checks & balances” over the others.

The event was just the beginning.  The VBA and the Judiciary intend to bring civics on the road, including into schools.  If you’d like to get involved, please get in touch. Or, if you’d like one of the pocket constitutions that were distributed to everyone who attended, be on the lookout for our next event! Oh, and finally, by the middle of next week, a video of the event will be available online.

Now, on to the quiz.  Of course, it’s a special Constitution Day theme.

  • Team entries welcome.
  • Five for Friday is usually “open book.”  I’m not saying this week’s isn’t, but give it a shot without looking up the answers.
  • email answers to
  • Please consider forwarding the quiz to colleagues
  • I’ll post the answers on Monday morning

Question 1 (2 parts, 1 point each)

James Madison was 1 of 2 future US Presidents to sign the Constitution.  His lifelong home was an estate in Orange County, Virginia. Vermonters should recognize the name of Madison’s estate.

  • What was the name of Madison’s estate
  • Who was the other future US President to sign the Constitution?

Question 2

What’s the subject of the most recently ratified amendment?

  • A.  Congressional salaries
  • B.  Equal Rights
  • C.  Presidential Succession
  • D.  Poll Taxes

Question 3

Top 5?

Especially in election years, the 1st and 2nd Amendment are often in the news.  Most lawyers remember studying the 4th & 5th in law school.  That leaves #3. What does the 3rd Amendment prohibit?

Question 4 (Author & Title: 1 point each)

These statements refer to the Constitution.  The same author wrote each, and each appears in the same place.  Please identify the author and what you’re reading if you come across the statements.

  • “To what purpose are powers limited, and to what purpose is that limitation committed to writing, if these limits may, at any time, be passed by those intended to be restrained?
  • “It is emphatically the province and duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is.”

Question 5

In an episode of The Office, Michael Scott ran over a co-worker in the company parking lot. He was driving a company car. When asked by an HR rep if the accident happened on company property, Michael replied:

  • “On company property, with company property.”

Then, citing a clause in the Bill of Rights, Michael said “So, we’re fine.”

What legal theory found in the Bill of Rights did Michael mistakenly think rendered him and the company “fine?”

PS:  September 17 is also the halfway mark to St. Patrick’s Day.  It’s all downhill from here!