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Sins of Omission

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The reading the U.S. Constitution from the House floor wrapped up yesterday morning, and as theatrical gestures go, this one was largely harmless. But before the political world moves on, it's worth noting that those who listened to the reading didn't hear the entire Constitution -- there were some omissions organizers of the p.r. stunt intended to make, and then there were the omissions that happened by accident.

On the former, the reading left out any constitutional text that had been invalidated by subsequent amendments to the document. This, conveniently, spared members the embarrassment of having to read portions that, for example, counted slaves as only three-fifths of a person. Adam Serwer had a good item yesterday, noting why this is a mistake.

The reason to include the superceded text is to remind us that the Constitution, while a remarkable document, was not carved out of stone tablets by a finger of light at the summit of Mount Sinai. It was written by men, and despite its promise, it possessed flaws at the moment of its creation that still reverberate today. Republicans could use the history lesson -- last year they attacked Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan during her nomination process because one of her mentors, Justice Thurgood Marshall, had the audacity to suggest that the Constitution was flawed since it didn't consider black people to be full human beings.

As
about the Huck Finn controversy, "If there's anything great about this country, it's in our ability to account for and overcome our mistakes." We shouldn't pretend we didn't make them.

The New York Times editorial board made a similar point today: "Members of the House might have thought they were bringing the Constitution alive by reading it aloud on Thursday. But they made a crucial error by excising its history. When they chose to deliberately drop the sections that became obsolete or offensive, and which were later amended, they missed a chance to demonstrate that this document is not nailed to the door of the past. It remains vital precisely because it can be reimagined."

Those were the deliberate omissions. Let's not overlook the accidental ones.

During Thursday morning's "historic reading," one member apparently skipped Article 4 Section 4 and part of Article 5 Section 1 when he or she inadvertently turned two pages at once, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who was in charge of the reading, said on the House floor this afternoon.

Goodlatte returned to the House floor at 2:23 p.m., more than two hours after the error occurred, read the missing sections, and placed them officially in the congressional record.

When shallow press stunts go awry....

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/

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the dems are jealous they didn't think of this first.

If the Constitution doesn't need any further extrapolating or interpretation, we could abolish the Supreme Court. Reading it aloud was suppose to do what? Challenge the authority of the Supreme Court (which ironically comes from the Constitution)?

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If the Constitution doesn't need any further extrapolating or interpretation, we could abolish the Supreme Court. Reading it aloud was suppose to do what? Challenge the authority of the Supreme Court (which ironically comes from the Constitution)?

:secret: how about remind everyone what they are there for - and of their limitations.


* ~ * Charles * ~ *
 

I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.

 

USE THE REPORT BUTTON INSTEAD OF MESSAGING A MODERATOR!

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the dems are jealous they didn't think of this first.

this would require them giving a damn about the constitution. :whistle:


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this would require them giving a damn about the constitution. :whistle:

i'd not be surprised if it's the first time many of them read it (on both sides of the aisle).


* ~ * Charles * ~ *
 

I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.

 

USE THE REPORT BUTTON INSTEAD OF MESSAGING A MODERATOR!

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:secret: how about remind everyone what they are there for - and of their limitations.

:secret: psst...Congress is full of lawyers and relies on constitutional lawyers (or at least the ones who are wise) when crafting new legislation. It wouldn't make sense to spend a lot of time and effort to get a piece of legislation passed through Congress if the authors of those bills didn't bother to check on whether it was constitutional or not.

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I'd love (but don't expect) to see 99.44% of those scalawags be charged with multiple felonies for perjuring their oaths of office, si man.


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:secret: psst...Congress is full of lawyers and relies on constitutional lawyers (or at least the ones who are wise) when crafting new legislation. It wouldn't make sense to spend a lot of time and effort to get a piece of legislation passed through Congress if the authors of those bills didn't bother to check on whether it was constitutional or not.

You mean like the Communications Decency Act (or the later Child Online Protection Act), Act of Sept. 24, 1789, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, Section 127 of the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act of 1997, Line Item Veto Act, Religious Freedom Restoration Act, The Patent and Plant Variety Remedy Clarification Act, etc, etc.

Good point.

source: http://supreme.justia.com/constitution/046-acts-of-congress-held-unconstitutional.html


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:secret: psst...Congress is full of lawyers and relies on constitutional lawyers (or at least the ones who are wise) when crafting new legislation. It wouldn't make sense to spend a lot of time and effort to get a piece of legislation passed through Congress if the authors of those bills didn't bother to check on whether it was constitutional or not.

:rofl: that must be why some are under investigation, eh?


* ~ * Charles * ~ *
 

I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.

 

USE THE REPORT BUTTON INSTEAD OF MESSAGING A MODERATOR!

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You mean like the Communications Decency Act (or the later Child Online Protection Act), Act of Sept. 24, 1789, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, Section 127 of the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act of 1997, Line Item Veto Act, Religious Freedom Restoration Act, The Patent and Plant Variety Remedy Clarification Act, etc, etc.

Good point.

source: http://supreme.justi...titutional.html

Exactly. You can see now how it's not as easy as merely reading the Constitution to determine whether a piece of legislation will pass constitutional muster in the eyes of the Supreme Court, and even the highest court in the land doesn't get it right (Dred Scott, Brown v. Board of Education).

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... even the highest court in the land doesn't get it right (Dred Scott, Brown v. Board of Education).

Actually, they always get it right. The fact that their rulings are sometimes later changed by different justices doesn't make the previous ruling wrong. All SCOTUS rulings, by definition, are right at the time they are made.

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Actually, they always get it right. The fact that their rulings are sometimes later changed by different justices doesn't make the previous ruling wrong. All SCOTUS rulings, by definition, are right at the time they are made.

If by right you mean that they have the final say, I agree. The Supreme Court has the final say on the constitutionality of laws, not Congress.

ETA: with the exception of an amendment.

Edited by 8TBVBN

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