Constitution Read: 2nd Amendment — and more, from Republican House

Photograph by Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo

A copy of the U.S. Constitution on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Before Sandy aid came the Constitution.

Members of the House of Representatives today continued a ritual begun two years ago after Republicans took control of the chamber by reading from the full text of the U.S. Constitution.

Lawmakers of both parties were invited to come, on a first-come, first-served basis, to participate in the reading.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican, said in a statement that “as members of Congress we must never lose sight that we are committed to protecting the fundamental rights of the people we represent.”

The reading, which took more than an hour to complete, was led by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the Virginia Republican who now chairs the House Judiciary Committee. “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, who initiated the first reading at the start of the previous Congress in 2011, said in a statement.

Among those participating in the reading was House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat. She read from a portion of Article III that delegated powers to the federal judiciary.

As Congress prepares to debate President Barack Obama’s proposals to regulate assault-weapons, the reading included the Second Amendment. Read by Kansas Republican Kevin Yoder, it states:“ A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The 13th Amendment, which formally abolished slavery after the Civil War, was read by John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat who is an honored veteran of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, when he was beaten by police and mobs during marches and demonstrations.

At some point later today, the House is expected to vote on delayed federal aid for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

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