Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) seems to be a big fan of constitutional history, even if his own legislative history hasn't always lived up to that document.
On Thursday, he'll lead a reading of the Constitution on the House floor -- a first, according to his website. Goodlatte is using the opportunity to demonstrate that, "The new majority in the House truly is dedicated to our Constitution and the principles for which is stands."
But an appearance on "The Last Word" with Lawrence O'Donnell may have shown that such dedication was lacking in the past. On Tuesday, Goodlatte came on the program to discuss his symbolic reading, and also played up the fact that the "we have, as a part of our new rules of the House, a requirement that all bills introduced in the Congress state the basis in the Constitution -- the section of the Constitution -- upon which that introducer of the bill relies in introducing it."
O'Donnell asked Goodlatte for the current Supreme Court justice who "most reflects" his own reading of the Constitution. After Goodlatte heaped praise on Antonin Scalia and indicated that legislation should stick within the framework of the Constitution, O'Donnell pointed out that Scalia had been part of a 7-2 majority that rulled Goodlatte's own internet censorship bill unconstitutional.
Reasonable parties can disagree, of course. Goodlatte noted that requiring bills to explain their constitutionality would at least get that debate started and help Representatives to consider the issue.
Among the biggest beneficiaries of the new rule? Maybe Goodlatte.
The congressman told O'Donnell that he has not looked into the constitutionality of the minimum wage, despite voting to increase it.
The host pressed, "You voted for an increase in something that you don't even know has constitutional authority to exist?"
"That's correct," Goodlatte admitted.