Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Never has the Constitution been read on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. And, boy, does our political situation show it.

When the 112th Congress convenes this week, the law of the land — the limited, enumerated powers granted to the federal government by “We the People” in this 223-year old document — will for the first time be spoken aloud for all honorables to hear. It’s a quick read, less than 5,000 words, and presumably cameras will be rolling, so we’ll know if any elected representative sticks finger into ear during the recitation.

A hat-tip to the Tea Party movement, this reading of the Constitution is a great way to remind our legislators that such a document actually exists.

Even better, a new rule will be proposed requiring every piece of legislation to have affixed a citation “where in the Constitution Congress is empowered to enact such legislation.”

Sure, Washington pundits have mocked this newborn constitutionalism, crying “gimmick!” One history professor called it “entirely cosmetic.” Tea Party activists are skeptical, too. As they should be.

Neither reading the Constitution nor declaring the constitutional authority for legislation amounts to magic. But, with a political process in which politicians rarely recognize any limits to their wizardry, a requirement that Congress specifically pay attention to whether its actions are permitted by the Constitution is, well, really good.

Will it lead to Congress actually abiding by the limits of our Constitution? It certainly couldn’t hurt.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. Dagney says:

    A good step. However, time will tell if it is all grandstanding for the benefit of the tea party. I think besides comparing any new legislation to see if it actually within their powers assigned by the Constitution, they must also go through every federal law, every edict, every regulation since the year 1900 to see if it is Constitutional. Then, we will start seeing improvement in this country. And, only then.

  2. Murray Bass says:

    Declaring Constitutional Authority would create an opportunity for challenge and debate. Good idea.

  3. Pat says:

    Even the idea of pointing to the constitutional authority for legislation means nothing. Congress’ favorite clause is the one allowing them to regulate interstate commerce. It’s been interpreted to mean anything they want it to mean. The Tea Party has the right idea but it will still mean nothing. Congress has interpreted interstate commerce to give them the ability to regulate commerce entirely within one state because it could affect economic activity elsewhere in the country. Reading the Constitution amounts to a stunt because it will accomplish nothing.

  4. Drik says:

    Need a grassroots movement to have the new Congress pass a law restricting the commerce clause to its original intent.
    And, of course, to repeal the 17th.

  5. […] flush with the attention being paid this very day in the House of Representatives to the land’s highest law, finally get to hold their conversations outside of seminars and […]

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