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House Reading U.S. Constitution Aloud Tuesday Morning

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HOUSE READING CONSTITUTION
AP

On Tuesday morning, members of Congress will read the entire U.S. Constitution aloud on the House of Representatives floor.

The line-by-line reading, which was championed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and other House Republicans, will begin at 10 a.m.. All members of the House have been invited to take part in the reading.

“One of the resounding themes I have heard from my constituents is that Congress should adhere to the Constitution and the finite list of powers it grants to the federal government," Goodlatte said in a Monday statement. "Our constitutional principles remain timeless and it is fitting that we start the 113th Congress by reading the Constitution aloud on the floor of the House of Representatives. The Constitution is the written consent the American people gave to their government to protect individual liberty and maintain limited government. This reading of the Constitution demonstrates that House Republicans are committed to our Constitution and the enduring principles for which it stands.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) also praised the reading as a testament to the importance of limited government.

"This is the people’s House and as Members of Congress we must never lose sight that we are committed to protecting the fundamental rights of the people we represent," Cantor said in a statement. "Congress must live within its means, limit the growth of government and maximize individual liberty. Guided by these principles, I am confident the House will chart a course for the future that ensures liberty and prosperity for all Americans.”

Tuesday's reading marks the second time the document has been read aloud on the House floor. Two years ago, House members conducted a similar reading at the beginning of the 112th Congress. According to CNN, the 2011 reading took 84 minutes.

Despite criticism from the left that the reading was a GOP-organized stunt, many Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), participated in the event.

However, controversy arose when then-Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) objected to reading the Constitution as amended-- meaning portions of the document that had since been superseded by amendments, such as the three-fifths clause, would be left out.

"There is a broad body of law and interpretation that has developed from 1787 until the adoption of the last Amendment in 1992 that has turned our Constitution into a living document, paid for by the blood, sweat and tears of millions of Americans from the Revolutionary War, through the Civil War to even our current conflicts," Jackson said in a statement. "The new Republican majority and their redacted Constitutional reading gives little deference to the long history of improving the Constitution and only seeks an interpretation of our Constitution based on the now, not the historic, broad body of law and struggle that it has taken to get there."

Despite the complaint, the House plans to use the amended version again during this year's reading.

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