Published January 05, 2011
Republicans in the House came to power vowing to govern by the book -- or in the case of the Constitution, by the parchment.
And partly as a nod to Republican representatives elected as part of the conservative Tea Party movement, one of the first acts of the newly GOP-controlled House will be to read that founding document aloud on Thursday.
Though it has been inserted as text into the Congressional Record before, the supreme law of the land has never been read aloud before in the body known as "the People's House."
The man responsible for the exercise, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., says it's more than just a simple civics lesson.
"This is a very symbolic showing to the American people," said Goodlatte, "and it's a powerful message to members of Congress. We are a nation of laws, not of men."
In his speech to fellow lawmakers after taking the gavel, newly minted House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, vowed to give the government back to the people, renew focus on the Constitution and provide transparency, honesty and accountability.
"Hard work and tough decisions will be required of the 112th Congress," he said. "No longer can we fall short. No longer can we kick the can down the road. The people voted to end business as usual and today we begin to carry out their instructions."
Boehner will begin Thursday by reading the Constitution's preamble: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., will follow suit with Article 1, Section 1, which states that Congress will have a Senate and a House of Representatives. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., then reads Article 1, Section 2.
Members will continue on until they have read the entire Constitution and its amendments. They will not get to choose which section they read.
Goodlatte expects the proceeding to take 90 minutes. They will use one copy of the document to do the entire reading, and will pass it between members.
The emphasis on the Constitution won't end with the reading of the document. The House on Wednesday approved a package of rules for the 112th Congress, put forward by Cantor, that includes a provision mandating that all bills cite their constitutional authority.
Fox News' John Brandt contributed to this report.