Constitutional Law

Slavery Passages Dropped from Constitution in Reading on House Floor


A GOP-inspired reading of the Constitution on the House floor on Thursday had some Democrats complaining of a whitewash.

House leaders used a version of the Constitution omitting parts replaced by amendments—and that meant references to slavery were dropped, according to stories in the Washington Post and the New York Times.

That led U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. to complain in a written statement that the “redacted constitutional reading gives little deference to the long history of improving the Constitution,” the Atlantic reports. The Illinois Democrat said the Constitution is “a living document, paid for by the blood, sweat and tears of millions of Americans from the Revolutionary War, through the Civil War to even our current conflicts.”

The Times reports that an “inadvertent double page turn” left out other parts of the Constitution. The dropped sections—parts of Articles IV and V—were later entered into the record.

The Times says many lawmakers appeared bored during the reading, which took an hour and 23 minutes. “Some who had been following with their government-issued pocket Constitutions started thumbing their BlackBerrys instead,” the Post reports. “They fidgeted in their seats. They scratched their heads and left to get bottles of water.”

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