Today, the new Congress is going to take some time to read the U.S. Constitution. Out loud. On C-SPAN. (I expect John Boehner will cry. Again.) The public recitation is meant to show how much the members respect the highest law of the land.
To that end, they also promise to pass only new laws that explicitly state which part of the Constitution gives them the power to do so. They may even see if some existing laws, like Obamacare, truly pass the constitutional litmus test.
Barry Lynn, writing in the Washington Post, is looking forward to how this will play out:
Let's say House members just looked at the 16 words of one provision in one amendment — "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." (This is found in the First Amendment, in case anybody is planning to doze off during the actual reading.) What would this lead them to do?
By next Monday, we should hear schoolchildren across America saying the original Pledge of Allegiance. There will be no "under God" in it. Obviously, the 1954 Congress that passed a law adding those two words to the previously secular (although written by a Baptist minister) pledge hadn't gotten the message: no laws touching on religion! What could be a more obvious affront to that principle than turning a patriotic affirmation into a spiritual shout-out as well? ...
By March, I would expect the complete termination of all funding for religious ministries, including those pesky "earmarks" to places like Christian summer camps and "prayer-only, no medical care" drug counseling centers. Please forgive me, but if you give taxpayer cash to groups that promote a specific spiritual path, you must be in violation of the language of the First Amendment. After all, the new House leadership is against government "picking winners and losers" in business (they didn't want to "bail out" GM); even more so with picking the best religion to guide your kids, drug dependent or otherwise.
As Radley Balko just remarked,
Having members of Congress read the Constitution aloud is like having a cross-section of YouTube commenters read from the A.P. Style Guide.