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Can I ask you a few questions about the US Constitution?
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 10/12/2015


The following is an installment in "The Bouchard 101", a series featuring "Ice Breaker's" designed to promote training awareness and capabilities in the corrections industry.

Few comprehensive corrections and criminal justice courses will omit material about constitutional rights. No matter how far we delve into any topic, the foundation of the constitution knowledge is paramount. That is why Can I ask you a few questions about the US Constitution? was created.

This is a very simple, multiple choice test about some of the contents of the constitution.
  • First, break the class into teams.
  • Distribute one copy per team of a short version of the constitution. This can be obtained from the internet of from the back of “Black’s Law Dictionary.”
  • Instruct the team to appoint a leader. Alternately, the instructor can make the decision. The team leader is told that she/he has five minutes to act as a teacher of the material that the facilitator just distributed.
  • At the end of five minutes, the facilitator orders that all notes be put away, including the constitutional hand out.
  • The oral test consists of fifteen questions about constitution.
  • This version features multiple choice questions.
  • The facilitator increases the difficulty if she/he utilizes a fill in the blank format.
  • An odd number of questions is used so there’s less likely to be a tie.
  • The facilitator asks the first question. In rotation, the team selected by a coin toss answers. That team captain is responsible for providing the final answer for the team. If the answer is correct, the team scores one point. If the answer is incorrect, the opposing team can score two points with a correct answer. The next question goes to the second team.
  • The team with the most points at the end wins.
  • In the following test, four multiple choice answers are provided. The underlined answer is the correct answer. Some background is also provided.
Constitution Test – selected Amendments
  1. What is Amendment VI?
    1. Repealed in 1957
    2. Right to a fair trial speedy trial
    3. Under consideration by the current administration
    4. Freedom of
    In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed;
  2. What does Amendment VIII deal with?
    1. Probation
    2. Parole
    3. Bail, fines, punishment
    4. Prison
    Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
  3. Amendment II deals with what?
    1. Right to bear arms
    2. An English language republic
    3. Specifically self-defense in one’s home
    4. The right to a speedy trial.
    A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
  4. What does Amendment I address?
    1. Peaceable redress grievances
    2. Freedoms, Petitions, Assembly
    3. None of the above
    4. A and B
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
  5. What does Amendment IV pertain to?
    1. Search and arrest
    2. The O. J. Simpson double murder case
    3. All of the above
    4. None of the above
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
  6. What does Amendment V pertain to?
    1. Prohibition of alcohol
    2. Rights in criminal cases
    3. Home and apartment rental
    4. Marriage
    …nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb, nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
  7. What does Amendment III deal with?
    1. Procedure to amend the Constitution
    2. Health care benefits
    3. Quartering of soldiers
    4. None of the above
    No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
  8. What political entity was Amendment II originally written for?
    1. French Canadian settlers
    2. Native Americans
    3. British Soldiers or Red Coats
    4. Hessian settlers
  9. What is Amendment 13 about?
    1. Freedom of assembly
    2. The right to bear arms
    3. Prohibition of alcohol
    4. Abolition of slavery
    Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
  10. In what year did Amendment 13, the abolition of slavery occur?
    1. 1875
    2. 1865
    3. 1855
    4. 1902
  11. What does Amendment 18 do?
    1. Legalization of marijuana
    2. Legalization of medical marijuana
    3. Prohibition of liquor
    4. Decriminalization of vice items
    Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article, the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.
  12. Amendment 16 put what into effect?
    1. Stricter gun laws
    2. Looser gun control laws
    3. Compromise on gun laws
    4. Income taxes
  13. In what year did this occur?
    1. 1903
    2. 1913
    3. 1923
    4. 1933
  14. Amendment 14 deals with what?
    1. Citizenship and due process
    2. Search and seizure
    3. Abolishment of slavery
    4. Cruel and unusual punishment
    Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
  15. Bonus question or tie breaker: On January 16, 1919, this Amendment was put into effect and was repealed by the Twenty-First, December 5, 1933. What is it?
    1. 8th Amendment – Cruel and unusual punishment
    2. 18th Amendment – prohibition of alcohol
    3. 2nd Amendment – Right to bear arms
    4. This is a trick question – we are not yet up to the 21st Amendment
The words of our forbearers are important for our democracy. And a simple test is not meant to diminish any meaning. In fact, relearning these principles through the spirit of competition emphasizes the lesson. The facilitator that fosters this will help bring the lesson home and strengthen the foundation for corrections and criminal justice professionals.

Joe Bouchard is a Librarian employed with the Michigan Department of Corrections and a collaborator with The International Association of Correctional Training Personnel (IACTP). He is also the author of “IACTP’s Corrections Icebreakers: The Bouchard 101, 2014”. The installments in this series include his opinions. The agency for which he works is not in any way responsible for the content or accuracy of this material, and the views are those of the contributor and not necessarily those of the agency. While some material is influenced by other works, all of the icebreakers have been developed by Joe Bouchard.

Visit the Joe Bouchard page

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