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PostPosted: 12/26/10 6:06 am • # 1 
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Buckle up, folks ~ it's gonna be a VERY bumpy ride ~ Image ~ Sooz

READING IT IS ONE THING, HONORING IT IS ANOTHER.... I can appreciate political theatrics as much as the next guy, but this stunt, as reported by the conservative Washington Times, seems rather pointless.

Quote:

The Constitution frequently gets lip service in Congress, but House Republicans next year will make sure it gets a lot more than that -- the new rules the incoming majority party proposed this week call for a full reading of the country's founding document on the floor of the House on Jan. 6.

The goal, backers said, is to underscore the limited-government rules the Founders imposed on Congress -- and to try to bring some of those principles back into everyday legislating.

The reading proposal was pushed by far-right Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who apparently got the idea from even-further-right state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R-Va.).

I don't doubt that several members who participate in the exercise will feel better about themselves, but there's no real point to this. Jonathan Bernstein, with an item dripping in sarcasm, noted the other day:

Quote:

[R]eading the Constitution out loud will guarantee that no new legislation will violate our basic charter. After all, it's well known that the Constitution is clear and unambiguous at all points, and that previous violations of it have been caused by a combination of ignorance and indifference. Once it's read on the House floor, that problem will be solved.

Look, this stuff is proven to work. Younger readers may not realize it, but in the Carter and Reagan years the House was just full of treasonous subversives -- a problem entirely solved by saying the Pledge of Allegiance to open all House sessions since fall 1988.

That's entirely right, but I'd go a little further. The point of the reading, I suspect, is to reinforce a larger argument that right-wing Republicans would like the public to believe: they are the Constitution's true champions. They want to read it out loud as a demonstration of the GOP's love of the document, and to stick it to those rascally liberals and their unconstitutional agenda.

But there's a problem with this: it's crazy. We're talking about a House Republican caucus with leaders who support allowing states to overturn federal laws they don't like.

In recent years, congressional Republicans haven't just endorsed bizarre legal concepts; they've advocated constitutional concepts that were discredited generations ago.

Worse, they have ambitious plans to shuffle the constitutional deck more to their liking. During the campaign, we heard from a variety of bizarre candidates, many of whom won, who talked about scrapping the 17th Amendment, repealing the 16th Amendment, getting rid of at least one part of the 14th Amendment, "restoring" the "original" 13th Amendment, and proposing dozens of new amendments.

Similarly, these same officials intend to radically transform the country as we currently know it, identifying bedrocks of society, and declaring them not just wrong, but literally unconstitutional. Two weeks ago, one of these so-called "Constitutional conservatives" publicly called for "censoring" major media outlets he doesn't like.

For these guys to somehow claim they've cornered the market on constitutional fealty is ridiculous, and arguably, backwards.

—Steve Benen 8:05 AM December 26, 2010

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archiv ... 027247.php



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PostPosted: 12/26/10 4:08 pm • # 2 
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There's a huge difference between reading the Constitution and understanding it.


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PostPosted: 12/31/10 6:07 am • # 3 
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Charlatans employing more smoke and mirrors ~ Sooz

OPEN TO INTERPRETATION.... For their first bit of pandering to a confused party base, conservative Republicans will kick off the 112th Congress by reading the Constitution out loud. There's nothing especially wrong this, of course, but it's a rather meaningless stunt.

But wait, there's more. After reading the document aloud, Republicans will then force House members to include a statement from bills' sponsors "outlining where in the Constitution Congress is empowered to enact such legislation."

Ezra Klein asks a good question: "What's the evidence that this will make legislation more, rather than less, constitutional, for whatever your definition of the Constitution is?"

Quote:

My friends on the right don't like to hear this, but the Constitution is not a clear document. Written more than 200 years ago, when America had 13 states and very different problems, it rarely speaks directly to the questions we ask it. [...]

In reality, the tea party -- like most everyone else -- is less interested in living by the Constitution than in deciding what it means to live by the Constitution. When the constitutional disclaimers at the bottom of bills suit them, they'll respect them. When they don't -- as we've seen in the case of the individual mandate [as part of the Affordable Care Act] -- they won't.

Quite right. The rhetoric about constitutional fealty from the right of late has taken on a certain childish quality -- the founding document supports their preferred policy goals, because they say so. It's the basis for this legislative push -- prove your legislation is constitutional, by including a statement saying it's constitutional.

This is terribly silly. If constitutional law were easy and straightforward, watching the Supreme Court would be exceedingly dull -- the justices would hear a case, read the document, and issue one 9-0 ruling after another.

But that's not the case. Interpreting 18th-century text, applying it to 21st-century law, and considering how and whether to consider framers' intent, context, and forethought is inherently tricky. The far-right Republican Party and its activists are convinced that they know what is and isn't constitutional now -- even on policies where they believed the exact opposite up until extremely recently -- but their rhetoric is painfully shallow.

As Ezra added, "To presume that people writing what they think the Constitution means -- or, in some cases, want to think it means -- at the bottom of every bill will change how they legislate doesn't demonstrate a reverence for the document. It demonstrates a disengagement with it as anything more than a symbol of what you and your ideological allies believe."

To reiterate a point from the other day, I'd add that all of this is part of a larger, misguided push intended to show that conservatives are the Constitution's true champions.

But there's a problem with this: it's crazy. We are, after all, talking about a House Republican caucus with leaders who support allowing states to overturn federal laws they don't like.

In recent years, congressional Republicans haven't just endorsed bizarre legal concepts; they've advocated constitutional concepts that were discredited generations ago.

Worse, they have ambitious plans to shuffle the constitutional deck more to their liking. During the campaign, we heard from a variety of bizarre candidates, many of whom won, who talked about scrapping the 17th Amendment, repealing the 16th Amendment, getting rid of at least one part of the 14th Amendment, "restoring" the "original" 13th Amendment, and proposing dozens of new amendments.

Similarly, these same officials intend to radically transform the country as we currently know it, identifying bedrocks of society, and declaring them not just wrong, but literally unconstitutional.

For these guys to somehow claim they've cornered the market on constitutional fealty is ridiculous, and arguably, backwards. Stunts and legislative gimmicks won't change this.

—Steve Benen 2:20 PM December 30, 2010

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archiv ... 027317.php


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PostPosted: 12/31/10 4:10 pm • # 4 
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But wait, there's more. After reading the document aloud, Republicans will then force House members to include a statement from bills' sponsors "outlining where in the Constitution Congress is empowered to enact such legislation."

It would be interesting to see them explain where in the Constitution it gives authority to not allow gays to marry, to outlaw abortion, and other conservative issues.



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