Today the Republicans are having the United States Constitution read before conducting any other business in the House of Representatives. The Republicans have presented the move as an attempt to return to the founding principles of the American government. However, some have criticized the recital as a costly public relations stunt by Republicans. Vanity Fair estimated the cost of reading the Constitution to be $1.1 million for taxpayers. While the Constitution is read House staffers and security personnel will still need to be paid. More bothersome to other liberals is the Republicans’ decision to edit out some parts of the Constitution before having it read.
Republicans have ordered that certain controversial parts of the United States Constitution not be read. For instance, Americans will not hear Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution which reads:
“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”
That part of the Constitution is commonly called the “three-fifths compromise.” Southern states wanted slaves to be counted in the census since it would give them more representatives in the House. Northern states objected to this since slaves were not given rights in the South. The compromise reached between the northern and southern states stated that slaves would be counted as “three-fifths” of a person. That language still appears in the Constitution, though it was subsequently modified by the 14th Amendment.
The idea of counting slaves as “three-fifths of all other Persons” is now, of course, offensive on its face. Liberals argue that the compromise proves the U.S. Constitution was a great, but not perfect document. The founders seemed to recognize this fact by establishing a procedure with which to amend the Constitution within the document itself.
In ordering the Constitution to be read, the Republicans are holding up the document as a guide for the future. However, Republicans seem unwilling to acknowledge some of the deficiencies in the Constitution.
Update: In another twist it turns out that two Republican representatives failed to take the oath of office as required by the United States Constitution. Both representatives subsequently cast invalid votes.