The House of Representatives is set to do something it has never done before: on Thursday morning lawmakers will read aloud the Constitution.
Though it has been inserted as text into the Congressional Record before, the supreme law of the land has never been recited 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."
Following big GOP elections wins last November, Matthew Spalding of the Heritage Foundation notes, "Much of the campaign we just had was based upon a reassertion of the Constitutional limits. This new Congress wants to set the tone to do that, and you're going to see it in the reading of the Constitution. It really points toward the oath of office they're taking, but that reading suggests they're actually going to try as best they can to abide by its rules."He also points out there's more significance to the reading than first meets the eye."There's also a new rule that each new piece of legislation has to show its Constitutional source of authority. We're going to see that come out the first time with the repeal of the Obamacare legislation, and we're going to see a strong assertion of Constitutional independent authority to interpret the Constitution."
Not everyone is as taken with the plan, however.Historian Alan Brinkley in an email to Fox News called the act, "A bit of political theater, but not insignificant, given that many Republicans have decided (implausibly, in my opinion) that the Constitution is the vehicle that can reduce the size of government."Newly minted House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will begin by reading the 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.
Fox News producer Patrick Summers contributed to this story.