At approximately 11:00 a.m. today the new Speaker and Majority Leader will lead the House of Representatives in a reading of the U.S. Constitution – the first time in the 221 year history of Congress that the supreme law of the land has been read aloud in the House chamber. Fox News reports:
“Newly minted House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will begin by reading the preamble, ‘We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.’”
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) will coordinate the reading and several lawmakers will each take turns reciting different passages of the document.
The Washington Post says the Constitution will have a “starring role” in this new Republican-led Congress, and they’re right. Among the new reforms approved yesterday is a requirement that every piece of legislation contain a statement of Constitutional authority. If a lawmaker can’t explain how a proposal is Constitutional, it doesn’t come to a vote. Period. This reform was outlined on page 33 of the Pledge to America:
“For too long, Congress has ignored the proper limits imposed by the Constitution on the federal government. Further, it has too often drafted unclear and muddled laws, leaving to an unelected judiciary the power to interpret what the law means and by what authority the law stands. This lack of respect for the clear Constitutional limits and authorities has allowed Congress to create ineffective and costly programs that add to the massive deficit year after year. We will require each bill moving through Congress to include a clause citing the specific constitutional authority upon which the bill is justified.”
An editorial in the Wall Street Journal says, “The exercise might even cause some lawmakers to reflect on the sources—and limits—of their own power.” That’s exactly the idea.
Check out the text of the Constitution here courtesy the National Archives.
UPDATE: Video below.