Theodore's World: Democrat Rep.Jerrold Nadler: GOP Reading Constitution “ritualistic reading” on the floor “total nonsense” and “propaganda”

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January 06, 2011

Democrat Rep.Jerrold Nadler: GOP Reading Constitution “ritualistic reading” on the floor “total nonsense” and “propaganda”

Reading between Constitution's lines

The Washington Post

Dem Rep. Jerrold Nadler: GOP Treating Constitution Like It’s a “Sacred Text,” Reading it is “Total Nonsense” and “Propaganda"

And the Founders said: Let there be a constitution. And the Founders looked at the articles and clauses and saw that it was good.

For more than 200 years, Americans have revered the Constitution as the law of the land, but the GOP and tea party heralding of the document in recent months – and the planned recitation on the House floor Thursday – have caused some Democrats to worry that the charter is being misconstrued as the immutable word of God.

“They are reading it like a sacred text,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the outgoing chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, civil rights and civil liberties, who has studied and memorized the Constitution with talmudic intensity.

Nadler called the “ritualistic reading” on the floor “total nonsense” and “propaganda” intended to claim the document for Republicans. “You read the Torah, you read the Bible, you build a worship service around it,” said Nadler, who argued that the Founders were not “demigods” and that the document’s need for amendments to abolish slavery and other injustices showed it was “highly imperfect.”

“You are not supposed to worship your constitution. You are supposed to govern your government by it,” he said.

But exalting the Constitution is hardly new. Constitutional scholars and historians say the document has occupied a nearly spiritual sphere for Americans practically since its ratification.

It has an immediate and obvious parallel to how you interpret the Bible," said Noah Feldman, a law professor and constitutional scholar at Harvard.

"The Constitution is seen as both the source and the product of God's blessing on the United States," said John Green, a University of Akron political scientist and adviser to the Pew Forum's surveys on religion in politics. "Reading and invoking the Constitution is part of a public ritual that makes up the civil religion."

In his first presidential inaugural address, George Washington divined the invisible hand of providence in the nation's creation, a pervasive belief, Green said, that imbued the Constitution with a "quasi-scriptural" quality. The perceived majesty of the document has waxed and waned over time, but after a sweeping Republican Party victory in the November midterms, it is conservative and tea party members who are most vocal in extolling its restorative powers.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), a frequent exalter of the Constitution, said Thursday's reading is a logical reaction to a campaign that was explicitly run on its principles. She said she believes the Constitution is a guide to paring down expansive government powers. "The words of the Constitution mean what they say they mean," she said. She described the Constitution as "the organic, original document" that "gives life to a nation."

"It's not on the same level as a sacred text that God would hand down to the faithful," said Bachmann, specifying the the document was "secular" and intended to provide parameters for the branches of government. But, she added, religious inspiration had a role in the document's drafting. "Those who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were themselves devout individuals - primarily in their Christian faith," she said, arguing that the product was "reflective of their sincerely held beliefs."

Suspicious and mocking as Nadler was of the Republicans' motivation for reading aloud what he affectionately characterized as "a long, dry, boring document with details about how Congress will have power to lay imposts and taxes".


GOP-Controlled House to Kick Off New Session by Reading Constitution Aloud

FOX News

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."

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.


Wild Thing's comment........

Finally, now the Dems will know what's in it! The tiny minority that do know what's in it should hang their heads in shame. The 110th Congress DID by and large make a total mockery of the Constitution, led by obama who has openly stated his disdain and ire toward our Consitition.

Regarding Nadler and the other liberals not liking this, they are exposing their utter hatred of America at every turn. Americans will vote accordingly.

Posted by Wild Thing at January 6, 2011 01:50 AM


Liberals don't believe in the Constitution of the United States. To them, it's noting but a pesky document that stands in the way of them turning America into a Socialist utopia and eventually a Communist state.

They look upon the Constitution the say way they look upon the Bible. Their both nothing but an outdated writing that was written by ignorant fools and has no relevance today.

Posted by: BobF at January 6, 2011 07:48 AM

Denying The Constitution as the heart of America is like denying your mother. I imagine a lot of Dems will be steamed at having to read and listen to The Constitution. A lot more of them will be gone in 2012.

Posted by: TomR,armed in Texas at January 6, 2011 10:03 AM

I just remember Pelosi saying about Obamacare: "...we won't know what's in it until we pass it." Well...the Liberals won't know what's in the Constitution until they READ it. Or, at least, HEAR it read. I want the Libs to stop playing with my's not some giant social experiment.

Posted by: petesuj at January 6, 2011 11:25 AM

The whole day in the media there have been jabs about this. Don't these idiots realilze what the Constitution has done FOR our country and what it cost those who wrote it. sheesh

Posted by: Wild Thing at January 6, 2011 11:26 PM