Throughout the history of this nation there has always been misconceptions regarding the Constitution. In the first chapter of A Machine That Would Go of Itself, Michael Kammen discusses some of these misconceptions of the Constitution, including confusion, interpretation, impact, attitudes toward and parallels. All of these elements are contributing factors that make our Constitution unique, distinct yet ambiguous. In dealing with these characteristics, Kammen breaks them up into five segments: confusion within the Constitution by the American people, attitudes towards the Constitution by the people, people's comprehension of the Constitution, conflict within consensus, and parallels to the Constitution. Of these five causes people's comprehension of the Constitution is the main cause of misconception. This is due to the lack of education students are receiving in the classroom. "Research of the past twenty-five years indicates that most adolescents are incapable of high-level cognitive ability when thinking about legal or moral issues of the kind raised by controversies over constitutional rights" (Patrick 3).
Kammen explains that confusion within the Constitution is based on the fact that there are a number of vague articles and clauses. These articles can be interpreted in many ways depending on your opinion of how the Framers intended them. Benjamin Franklin's assessment of the differing views of the Constitution was, "when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views." The Framers themselves were unclear on how they wanted to word certain sections. Though the Supreme Court has helped define these sections with court rulings, a number of articles remain under debate regarding their true meaning.
Attitudes of the American people depend significantly on their understanding of the Constitution.