Five for Friday #87: The Constitution

Welcome to the 87th #fiveforfriday legal ethics quiz!

It’s fitting that #fiveforfriday87 falls during Constitution Week.  Why? Funny you should ask!

The Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787.  Indeed, it reminds me of a song that I sang as a kid:

  • “in 1787 I’m told our founding fathers diiiid agree, to write a list of principles FOR keepin’ people freeee. The U.S.A. was just startin’ out a whole brand new countreeee. And so our leaders spelled it out, the things that we should bee-EEE.”

(if you’re interested in hearing me sing more, read THIS)

On a more serious note, here’s a startling statement on the Constitution and civics.  According to a recent poll, nearly 40% of Americans cannot name a single protection listed in the 1st Amendment.

Think about that.

Are you trying to come up with a few?

Hint: there are SIX things about which “Congress shall make no law.” 4 in 10 people cannot name 1.

Worse, per the same poll, only 1 in 4 Americans can name all 3 branches of government!

If 3 out of 4 don’t know the branches, how are we to impress upon the executive & legislative branches the importance of an independent & fully funded judicial branch?

Here’s a simple way to help: contact the Vermont Bar Association at  Ask for a pocket constitution.  Give the pocket constitution to a kid, or to a teacher, or to a client who is a school board member.

Or, do what a number of Vermont lawyers have been doing around the state: volunteering their time to visit schools and civic organizations to talk about the Constitution and civics.  It might sound like a small step.  It is.  But small steps often lead in the right direction.

Again contact and ask for some pocket Constitutions.

Onto the quiz!

And what better way to mark Constitution Week than with a Constitution-themed quiz.


  • None.  Open book, open search engine, text-a-friend.
  • Team entries welcome, creative team names even more welcome.
  • E-mail answers to
  • I’ll post the answers & Honor Roll on Monday
  • Please don’t use the “comment” feature to post your answers
  • Please consider sharing the quiz with friends & colleagues
  • Share on social media.  Hashtag it – #fiveforfriday
  • Amendment 1:  Mike shall make no law abridging a quiz taker’s right to an open book, open search engine, phone-a-friend quiz.  Yet, in the spirit of civics, give this week’s quiz a shot without exercising the rights conferred by this Amendment.
  • Amendment 2: Notwithstanding Amendment 1, Question 5 is closed book, closed search engine, no contacting friends.
  • Amendment 21.  I agree!

Question 1

The 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution lists 6 things about which “Congress shall make no law.”   1 point for each you can name.

Question 2

On May 1, 2017, the ABA marked “Law Day” by celebrating an amendment that it called “a mini-constitution for modern times.”   The amendment is the longest, and per the ABA, “arguably the most important.”  Name the amendment.

Question 3

Which is different from the others?

  • A.  right to be secure from unreasonable searches & seizures
  • B.  right not to be compelled to self-incriminate in a criminal matter
  • C.  right not to be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law
  • D.  right not to have private property taken for public use without just compensation

Question 4

The “Great Compromise” reached at the Constitutional Convention likely saved the Constitution and, by extension, the fledging Union.

What are the two things that the “Great Compromise” called for?

Question 5

In 1792, a boy was born in Danville, Vermont.  Later, he attended Burlington College at UVM, but transferred to Dartmouth after the federal government took over UVM during The War of 1812.  After graduating from Dartmouth, he became a lawyer and was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar.  For many years, he had very successful practice in Gettysburg.

This Vermont-born lawyer eventually was elected to the United States Congress as a “radical republican” from Pennsylvania.  During the Civil War, he served as the chair of the House Ways & Means Committee.  His work as chair was key to the Union’s efforts to fund the war.

A staunch abolitionist, this Vermont-born lawyer played a critical role in the passage of the 13th and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution.  In response to the House vote to authorize the 13th Amendment, he said:

  • “I will be satisfied if my epitaph shall be written thus, ‘Here lies one who never rose to any eminence, and who only courted the low ambition to have it said that he had striven to ameliorate the condition of the poor, the lowly, the downtrodden of every race and language and color.’ ”

In 2013, Tommy Lee Jones received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of this Vermont-born lawyer in the movie Lincoln.

Name the lawyer.