I wrote almost two years ago that the right to a civil jury trial, protected in the Seventh Amendment, is the most ignored, unknown and endangered constitutional right in any of the amendments in the Bill of Rights. Not that I needed proof, but I saw it again over the weekend. The “Jeopardy” game show episode broadcast in the Washington, DC, area on Saturday, May 12, included a column of five questions titled, “Know Your Rights.” If the results are a valid sample of the public’s knowledge of the Bill of Rights, we are either doomed or at least in big trouble. Only two of the five questions were correctly answered, with three questions incorrectly answered. The Seventh Amendment was one of the subjects of an incorrectly answered question; the contestant said that threshold for a civil jury trial was $10, when it’s $20. The 60% failure rate would have been a “F” in any classroom. In contrast, the contestants correctly answered four of the five questions about famous princesses and all five questions about an exercise workout.
You’d think that at a time when we hear concepts such as religious liberty, gun rights, free speech, and Tea Party, each with a basis in constitutional history, thrown all over the mass media that the public would have a better idea of their origin.
The episode was originally broadcast on November 25, 2010, and you can see all of the questions on this website. Take the quiz yourself and see if you can correctly answer the the four other questions on constitutional rights (scroll the mouse over the dollar amount in the box for the correct answer).