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02-04-20-michael-bloomberg-rally-national-constitution-center-kylie-cooper

The Annenberg Public Policy Center conducts its Constitution Day Civics Survey every year on Sept. 17, Constitution Day.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

A recent Annenberg study found that Americans are knowledgeable about the three branches of government and freedoms under the First Amendment, but still hold key misunderstandings about the Constitution. 

The Annenberg Constitution Day Civics Survey is taken every year on Sept. 17, Constitution Day, by the Annenberg Public Policy Center. The survey measures American adults' knowledge about civics and government. This year's survey saw an increase in some areas, while knowledge of other parts of the Constitution declined.

56% of U.S. adults could name all three branches of government, up from 51% in 2020. 20% could not name any branch.

Many could name most of the freedoms granted by the First Amendment, with 74% naming freedom of speech. Knowledge on the First Amendment’s impact on Facebook posts, however, was limited. 61% of respondents thought that Facebook must allow free expression. However, Facebook may censor posts as a private company — the First Amendment protects against government censorship, Annenberg reported. 

Freedom of religion was named second most as a First Amendment right, with 56% of respondents naming it, as opposed to 47% and 15% in the 2020 and 2017 surveys, respectively. 

Fewer respondents — 17% — could not name any First Amendment freedoms, down from 19% in 2020 and 37% in 2017.  

When asked about the arrests of protestors from the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, participants were split as to whether the arrests were constitutional or not. 49% of respondents agreed the arrests were constitutional, while an equal number disagreed with the statement. 

When stratified by political leaning, 53% of conservatives, 51% of moderates, and 42% of liberals said the arrests were unconstitutional. 

48% reported taking a college course on the U.S. government and the Constitution, up from 38% in 2019. 

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