For the third time, the House of Representatives read the whole Constitution on the floor of the lower chamber, with lawmakers taking turns to read sections of the document.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) led the reading. Republicans and Democrats mingled in a single-file line down the center aisle of chamber, holding papers with their assigned passages.
The reading started at 9 a.m. and ended before 11 a.m.
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a figure from the Civil Rights Movement, read the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery.
Freshman Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) got to read the 2nd Amendment. Members got assignments on a first-come, first-served basis.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) read the preamble, while Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi read a section later.
Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) noted they “had more readers on hand than the Constitution is long.”
“There is no better way to start the 114th Congress than by reflecting on and recommitting ourselves to the fundamental founding principles enshrined in the Constitution,” Goodlatte said.
“The Constitution tells us that we, as representatives of the people, have explicitly limited powers granted to us by the people for a short period of time,” Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said. “It makes clear that the people come first, and that government exists for the benefit of the people. In deference to our Constitution, Republicans began a tradition: On the House floor, at the beginning of each and every Congress, we read aloud the Constitution from the preamble to the 27th amendment. In this reading, we recommit ourselves to defending and preserving the Constitution in all of our actions as public officials.”