Members of the House, for the first time anyone can remember, read the Constitution aloud on the House floor to commemorate the beginning of a new Congress, one day after the 435 members were sworn in. But they didn’t read the whole Constitution, exactly: They read the document as amended.
On the day that the new Congress was sworn in, the Constiutiton of the United States was read aloud on the floor of the House of Representatives. Having been done only once before in the history of the nation. The problem however with this rather patriotic performance, according to Jesse Jackson Jr., was that the document was not read in its original form, but instead as amended. In other words, the more distasteful parts of the Constitution including the 3/5 compromise were omitted from the reading, giving the impression that the document has little history and is not the product of a long and tumultuous struggle.
This debate gives rise to the classical argument of constitutional interpretation; whether the Constitution is a “living” document to be interpreted based on the current times, changing as the nation changes. Or whether as a nation, we should return to a strict interpretation of the Constitution, basing our current views on the beliefs and intents of those men who drafted the document over 200 years ago. Which do you believe? Do you believe that the Constitution should be adapted to meet the changing times, reflecting current values and norms? Or do you believe, like many in the Tea Party, that we should return to more classical view of the document giving heed to the intentions of the men who drafted it? Think to about the implications of these perspectives and how they would affect the rights and freedoms currently held by citizens of the United States!