Constitution: You’ve Read It; Now Rely on It

At 10 this morning (be sure to catch it on C-SPAN), members of the House of Representatives will take a break from the normal hurly-burly of lawmaking to actually read the Constitution, out loud, on the House floor.

It’s only the second time this has been done, and this time it’s happening because of the leadership of Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s (R–VA) House Judiciary Committee and Steve Scalise’s (R-LA) Republican Study Committee.

That’s great.

The Constitution isn’t especially long; it’s well-written, and lawmakers have already sworn to uphold it, so it can’t hurt for them to hear it read.

But what’s more important is what happens after the dramatic reading. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, but many lawmakers treat it like actors with a movie script. They’re happy to follow it when it’s convenient to do so, but they also feel free to improvise whenever they want.

Americans should let our lawmakers know that we will be watching. We’ll demand that they act within the bounds of the Constitution, and we’ll find ways to push back when they exceed its authority.

Lawmakers agreed two years ago to cite the specific constitutional provision behind any bill they introduce. That turned into a bit of a farce, with the Commerce and Spending Clauses being the most frequently cited.

The bigger question is: Will Congress truly act as a body that respects the Constitution? We’ll have to wait and see.

Read the Heritage Guide to the Constitution