Tomorrow the Constitution of the United States will be read before Congress opens it 112 session.

According to

Though it has been inserted as text into the Congressional Record before, the supreme law of the land has never been read aloud before in the body known as “the People’s House.”

The man responsible for the exercise, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., says it’s more than just a simple civics lesson.

“This is a very symbolic showing to the American people,” said Goodlatte, “and it’s a powerful message to members of Congress. We are a nation of laws, not of men.”

One has to ask, how long will this reading take and who will read it?  Will they all take turns?  Will only Republicans be allowed to read?  This exercise sounds about as interesting as watching paint dry or grass grow.  How often will this exercise happen?  Ah, here are the answers:

Though it has been inserted as text into the Congressional Record before, the supreme law of the land has never been read aloud before in the body known as “the People’s House.”

The man responsible for the exercise, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., says it’s more than just a simple civics lesson.

“This is a very symbolic showing to the American people,” said Goodlatte, “and it’s a powerful message to members of Congress. We are a nation of laws, not of men.”

It appears that some folks are confusing the Constitution with the Bible.  Additional rules have been approved:

The emphasis on the Constitution won’t end with the reading of the document. The House on Wednesday approved a package of rules for the 112th Congress, put forward by Cantor, that includes a provision mandating that all bills cite their constitutional authority.

Now this is beginning to sound like the SOL objectives.  It’s going to be a long 2 years before everyone gets sick of all this.  I wonder how many of those rascals will being the newspaper and a smart phone to play with?  I hope no one gets caught napping.

42 Thoughts to “The Reading of the Constitution: Blame the Virginians”

  1. And the problem with citing the authority upon which a bill is supposed to be base is…?

  2. In the first place, being a constitutional lawyer is not a prerequisite for being a congressman or woman. It is a road block and there is little specific ‘authority’ for most bills. The Constitution is a framework.

    Again, it the ‘authority’ sounds like a religious test.

    The next 2 years will produce nothing but arguing at the onset over the ‘authority. Expect nothing to come of it. New obstructionism.

    I would challenge that one legally. Talk about making up new rules as you go along. Where is ‘authority’ test authorized by the constitution?

  3. Rick Bentley

    I don’t see anything wrong with this. Many of the people in Congress need a reminder.

  4. The majority in each House makes up the rules as they start the new Congress.

    “Expect nothing to come of it. New obstructionism.”

    You say that like its a bad thing….

    One does not need to be a lawyer to figure out if the Constitution authorizes something. Lawyers began to be needed only when Congress was trying to get AROUND the limitations imposed on itself. The document is quite plainly written.

  5. hello

    I think this is a great idea and should be done at the beginning of each new Congress. Only progressives and far left liberals find this to be a bad thing and even going as far as to call it “propaganda”. Reading the Constitution aloud is like kryptonite to superman or holding up a cross to Dracula, a well placed silver bullet for a ware wolf.

    The Constitution renders them powerless and impotent, which is why they stay as far away from it as they possibly can. One perfect example is when (former Speaker of the House :-))Nancy Pelosi is asked where the Constitution authorizes Congress to order Americans to buy health insurance she simply replies, “Are you serious? Are you serious?”. Ah, yeah Nancy, we are serious which is why your the FORMER Speaker of the House now.

  6. marinm

    I think the discussion/debate about which parts of the Consitution to read was interesting and I don’t have a problem with Congress doing this at the opening of every session – akin to the pledge, a prayer or the national anthem (least in my humble opinion)

  7. Big Dog

    Hopefully they are reading it for comprehension, not just as a political stunt.

  8. Emma

    Every federal employee takes the following pledge, and they are not all Constitutional lawyers:

    I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

    5 U.S.C. §3331

    If they’re going to support and defend the Constitution, they should at the very minimum read the thing.

  9. Raymond Beverage

    I too am for it…and the Oath I took when I joined the Army (similar to what Emma posted) still rings true in my retired years. Just as a tidbit – that Oath is higher than our Pledge we say. When in uniform – either in the days of Active Duty or when wearing it as a Retired Soldier on appropriate occasions – if the Pledge of Alligiance is said, when in uniform one stands at attention and remains silent. It is appropriate to render a salute during the Pledge, but one remains silent as the Oath is the higher authority.

    Personally, I hope the folks in Congress listen to at least the Preamble. “posterity” is a key word with all the talk on how the debt will be on the backs of our grandchildren. Somewhere along the line that key word was forgotten.

  10. They should be adult enough to read it silently without the political theater.

    Someone asked what was wrong with doing it. Technically nothing other than it is grand standing and hokey.

    Many of those same people who are castigating the Democrats voted for or supported 2 wars for 9 years. for most of the Iraq war the cost was a billion a week. Its easy to point at others. Wars are not free.

  11. And, if they were sincere about all congress men and women being well versed in Constitutional law, even though being an attorney is not a requirement to serve in Congress, then they would have put them in Constitution School for a day and then tested them.

    Any fool can be in the room where something is being read. It doesn’t mean that he/she listens, hears, understand has any comprehension whatsoever.

    Gimmicktry. That’s all it was. Putting on a big show. I am surprised they didn’t all have to wear powdered wigs and 3 cornered hats to take their oath.

  12. Emma

    No less hokey than the hours they spend declaring National Toilet Paper Day or whatever special interest group wants a mention on the floor. They spend many hours per year on that nonsense.

    1. Not familiar with NTD but I can’t remember all the stupid things Congress does. I can only do one day at a time.

  13. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    I love seeing the liberals cringe and gnash their teeth over hearing the Constitution read aloud. It’s like pouring holy water on a vampire.

    1. @Slow, why do you think liberals cringe over the Constitution being read? I have never known one to cringe over reading it. Considering that no congress has ever wasted time ceremoniously reading it aloud it is hard to say who cringes and who doesn’t. Tell the truth–what else could Congress have been doing during those 2 hours? I suggest they start fixing all the problems they whined, beefed and bitched about the last 2 years. Enough diddle figging around! Hup to it!! Chop chop!

  14. BS in VA

    Where is it written in the Constitution that lawmakers must read the thing and/or provide citations when proposing new legislation? This is, as Moon said, a gimmick which harms no one and means nothing. Let ’em have it.

  15. @BS in VA
    The reading and providing citations authority is found in the article providing each house with the authority to formulate their own rules.

  16. Twinad

    I’d like to see video of them all from behind while it was being read..remember the footage of all the representatives playing solitaire, having Facebook open, reading their Blackberries a few years ago while bills were being debated? I agree, it’s a stunt, but it can’t hurt to remind them what they are there for. Whatever…they need to get to work and take some action instead of all the political posturing. The first thing that is planned is moving to repeal the healthcare law even though they know full well it will not be repealed…not enough votes in the Senate and Obama has veto power. So why are they going to waste their time on that? Besides the fact that it would cost an obscene amount of money to repeal it…I thought the goal was to reduce spending and waste. That is a colossal waste of time and money. Ugh.

  17. The news was not kind. It appeared to be a dog and pony show of the the 6th magnitude. I just want them to get busy and fix everything they said they could fix. No pony games.

    Get busy, 112th!!!!

  18. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    I’m telling ya, it’s a hoot to watch the left lose it!

  19. @Slow, shoot. Did the left all go home and not participate in the dog and pony show? what spoiled sports!

  20. BS in VA

    @ Cargo: That citation appears to be very general indeed. I support it, the vague wording, I mean. I have been told by experienced law-making attorneys that the best laws are supposed to be vague. That way they can have the most flexibility. I believe most of our Constitution is equally vague so that it can be flexible. If that is true, do you really think that having a lawmaker cite the Constitution for new legislation is going to be impactful? You need to remember that the world is not a black and white world. If one doesn’t know that, then one is controlled by jingoists.

  21. I think you are confusing your definitions. Jingoism has nothing to do with looking at the world in absolute terms. Definition: “extreme patriotism in the form of aggressive foreign policy”

    As for the Constitution, it is anything but vague. And the instructions in it allowing each chamber to make their internal rules are quite specific.

    Will it make an impact? Don’t know. Hope so. Let’s see. At least doing it will be harmless and force members to actually read the document that they have sworn to uphold.

  22. Slow, the left lost? Let’s see here….has the democratic president left? Has the Senate dissolved? Oh oh oh…lose IT. What is IT and which left lost it?

    Meanwhile, how is the country coming along? Is it fixed yet?

  23. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    You gotta have patience! It will take time to clean up the mess left by the Pelosi congresses!

    1. @smartass,

      I am going to doing the instant gratification thing like was done in 2008. Same amount of time. As Obama has caught it, so will Bohner

  24. BS in VA

    @ Cargo: You are making my point for me. You read a single line, a single definition ,a single opinion, a single “black and white” definition and couldn’t consider the broader definition. Wikipedia says Jingoism is the British form for the French word Chauvinism. Chauvinism in its broader definition means “an extreme and UNREASONING partisanship on behalf of any group to which one belongs, especially when partisanship includes malice and hatred towards rival groups.”

    If you don’t try to see issues through both sides of the lens, you only see it through your filters and can only accept definitions that meet your expectations. You can’t grow in your understanding of things. None the less, I can’t see that the reading of the Constitution, Bible, Koran, or Old Mother Hubbard will do anything (positive or negative) for governing the country. It looks like a waste of valuable time for the new Republicans.

  25. Excellent points, BS.

    I simply don’t know what the hour and a half reading really accomplished. Window dressing is foolish for a body of grown ups who have been elected to provide governance.
    I felt they wasted our time. What changed because they read the Constitution?

    In the first place, I don’t think the Constitution was mean to be read beginning to end. It is more reference material.

    Binary thinking stamps out our ability to see things in 3-D, shades of gray, common ground or compromise. Things aren’t all black or white.

  26. Censored bybvbl

    They (the Repubs) read it to remind the rest of us heathens that they’re the sole defenders of it and the rest of the country is comprised of Socialists, Marxists, abortionists, atheists, illegal alien apologists, gays and Lesbians, activist judges, Hollywood pinkos, laborites, government workers, moderates, etc. The country needs to be saved from us and standing before cameras and reading the Constitution will repel all the baddies just as effectively as garlic will a vampire.

    1. Too funny, Censored. I think you are on to something. You forgot defenders of porno. Ewwwwww…..crotchless undies. The horrors! I will have to grab my gun and end it all. Wait! Stop! What am *I* doing with a gun????

  27. BS in VA

    @ Censored: you forgot to list bloggers.

  28. Apparently the previous Congress had never read nor referenced the Constitution, so the current one wanted there to be no excuses, this time. Remember, the first question asked when things get FUBAR is, “Did you read the instruction manual?”

    I mean, it was Pelosi that, when asked by what Constitutional authority the mandate to buy insurance was based upon, scoffed, “Are you serious? Are you serious?”

  29. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    Moon-howler :
    I am going to doing the instant gratification thing like was done in 2008. Same amount of time. As Obama has caught it, so will Bohner

    The other thing you have to keep in mind is that Dems still control the upper house and the executive branch. All Conservatives have is the House. So when you say “chop, chop”, the Dems are still in charge!

  30. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    Would it make y’all feel better to read the Communist Manifesto when Dems return to power in the house?

  31. BS in VA

    You know, I just changed my mind about reading the Constitution. Congrats Cargo and Slow, you all win. If reading it once is good government, reading it more than once is better government. I propose that the sacred document be read every Monday that Congress is in session. I further propose that each Congressman be required to wear red, white and blue. Blue hair, red nose and white pan cake face make-up.

  32. Elena

    First of all, trying to comprehend the deep meaning of the document was impossible given the fact it was sooooo disjointed. I have never had LESS interest in listening to this revolutionary document than this butchered attempt.

  33. @slow

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist smartass earlier. I hope you know I said it in fun.

    As for who is in control…I am not sure anyone really is. Or maybe everyone is. Actually, after all the cheering I have heard about Repubs being back in charge, I am glad you said that. Perhaps they will all see the need to work together.

    Chop chop is still in order. I want to see great things out of this congress. You can’t sit back and complain about how someone else is driving, then still blame the driver when you are holding the reins. The repubs are holding the house reins. Chop chop. Gitti-up

  34. I agree, Elena. Yawn. Dog and pony.

  35. @BS in VA
    ABSO-FREAKING-LUTLEY! That would look great on CSPAN.

    Elena, actually I agree with you. In concept, they had a good idea, but like most things done by Congress, execution SUCKED.

  36. e

    the constitution was written a long time ago by a bunch of slaveholding dead white males. it will be replaced by obama’s little green book, obligatory reading of which will be required daily not only by congress, but also in school, workplace, movie theater, and every other venue where the citizens congregate

  37. Morris Davis

    Raymond – I believe that despite all the hubbub the 112th will be business as usual where the burden on our grandkids and our posterity won’t matter near as much as our Congresspeople puckering up for some full-on lip contact with the posteriors of fat cat supporters expecting a return on their investments in the newly minted public servant for whom they bought elected offices. Go down to the Hill next week and walk around the House and Senate office buildings or stroll over to Charlie Palmer’s or Bobby Van’s at lunch and look around. If nothing else you’ll get to see some really nice high-end suits and some very well coifed hair.

    Slow – My recollection was the right – particularly Cheney, Addington, Gonzalez, Yoo, and Haynes – felt the Constitution was a quaint old document that stood in the way of unfettered executive authority and it was their sole mission to ensure nothing and no one intrude on the king’s … I mean the president’s power. When you see the left cringe it’s because the left has an aversion to seeing the right use the Constitution like it’s a wet-wipe on a baby’s backside.

    Emma – One thing the new Congress has done right … IMHO … is to ban the practice of allowing commemorative resolutions. I heard a stat on how much time went into proclaiming the week of June 20th National Boll Weevil Eradication Week or congratulating the Gainesville Grizzlies on winning the regional championship or honoring the efforts of the Sterling Park Neighborhood Watch on combating the drug gang epidemic in Loudoun County. That’s not to denigrate the efforts of any movement or any group, but it’s a waste of time to bring it up on the floor of Congress just to get it into the Congressional Record.

  38. So, how’s all that cringing going now that Obama is basically continuing Bush’s policies?

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