Members of Congress took to the House floor Tuesday morning to read the secular scripture that is the United States Constitution, an effort to remind them of the institution’s guiding principles as the 113th Congress gets under way.
One would think such a document should be read in its entirety to remind this crop of congressional leaders of the entirety of its history, complete with imperfections, and the quest for a more perfect union that has distinguished the history of the country and its guiding document.
However, in what is becoming a tradition for these mass Constitution readings, the members have left out the parts of the Constitution that had been amended after the document was ratified Sept. 17, 1787.
This saved a few unlucky souls from having to read such dark and unsavory passages such as Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3, aka the clause that says only three-fifths of slaves would be counted when determining the distribution of taxes and the apportionment of representatives in the House. Thankfully this malicious clause was amended — albeit many, many years later — by the 14th Amendment.
It also saved a member of Congress from having to be the party pooper to read the 18th Amendment, which prohibited the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.” This amendment was stricken from the Constitution in 1933 by the 21st Amendment, much to HOH’s merriment.
And while the dark stains of our Constitution were left out from the readings, a few lucky members got to read the bright spots of the document.
Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., the icon of the civil rights movement, read the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery.