» This Story:Read +|Watch +| Comments
» This Story:Read +|Watch +| Comments
Post Politics
New home.
Still the best political coverage.

After wrangling, Constitution is read on House floor, minus passages on slavery

Video
And on the second day of Republican rule, the House reads the Constitution. Volunteers gave voice to the seven articles and 27 amendments that make up the nation's governing document on Thursday.

Network News

X Profile
View More Activity
Discussion Policy
Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, January 7, 2011; 7:15 PM

Finally the time had come to recite the Constitution aloud on the House floor. But first came the bickering over which parts of the nation's founding document to read at all.

This Story
View All Items in This Story
View Only Top Items in This Story
This Story
View All Items in This Story
View Only Top Items in This Story

House Republicans, who orchestrated the symbolic exercise as an early gesture to the tea party movement, touted it as a way to bring the new Congress, and the people they represent, back to America's roots.

But they didn't want to go all the way back.

They skipped several passages that no longer apply, including those that condoned slavery, angering some Democrats. On a day designed to celebrate the Founding Fathers' growing role in the nation's political discourse, Democrats accused Republicans of distorting history and the men who wrote it.

Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), the House's top-ranking African American, declined to participate in the reading. He said omitting the slavery clauses amounted to "revisionist history."

"It could have been very educational if all the members talked about the United States Constitution as a living document, talked about how this country wrestled with things like race and gender," Clyburn said in an interview.

But they didn't. Lawmakers of both parties were called forth, more than 130 in all, to recite passages - and said no more.

Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte (R-Va.), who led the floor proceedings, defended the decision to choose an edited version of the document. He said he consulted the Congressional Research Service, among other sources, and that he was not trying to protect the framers of the Constitution.

"The intent was to read the Constitution as it currently operates," Goodlatte said in an interview.

'We the people . . . '

The exercise began on a historic note - never before had the Constitution been read aloud on the floor of the House.

Newly minted Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) was first up and had the honor of reciting three of the most famous words in American history, and the celebrated preamble that follows them.

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union . . . "


CONTINUED     1        >


» This Story:Read +|Watch +| Comments
» This Story:Read +|Watch +| Comments

More in the Politics Section

Campaign Finance -- Presidential Race

2008 Fundraising

See who is giving to the '08 presidential candidates.

Latest Politics Blog Updates

© 2011 The Washington Post Company

Network News

X My Profile