In a sign of the strength the Tea Party and its supporters, House Republicans will be requiring legislators to cite the Constitution with every proposed law. When the GOP-controlled House convenes for the first time on January 5, legislators will read the Constitution aloud and then require all bills to cite the constitutional authority to enact any given law.
But whether such flourishes will engender real legislative changes or simply offer window dressing is up for debate. “I think it’s entirely cosmetic,” said Kevin Gutzman, a history professor at Western Connecticut State University and a conservative libertarian who sympathizes with the Tea Party. “This is the way the establishment handles grassroots movements. They humor people who are not expert or not fully cognizant. And then once they’ve humored them and those people go away, it’s right back to business as usual.”
The House Historian’s Office has no record of the Constitution being read aloud on the House floor. It’s estimated that the document, which is more than 4500 words long, and which has 27 amendments, will take about one hour to read aloud. Probably the best hour Congress has spent in quite a while.
As we head into the New Year, it’s an excellent time to get involved with the Republican Liberty Caucus and other grassroots Tea Party groups across the country.