At the initiative of House Republicans, the House recently changed its rules to allow the reading of the whole Constitution on the floor on the House’s opening day and to require each bill introduced in the House to be accompanied by a statement in the Congressional Record “citing as specifically as practicable the power or powers granted to Congress in the Constitution to enact the bill or joint resolution.” Some are hailing both moves as a major change which will help keep Congress within the bounds the Framers originally intended. Others see it as cheap public relations, a sop to tea-partiers that will give the new Republican majority the cover to get back to congressional business as usual.
I wonder if both sides might be wrong. Might the focus on constitutional authority, particularly the second measure, work to popularize constitutionalism in the way some, like Larry Kramer of Stanford, have argued it was always meant to be. If so, one might wonder whether the Republicans should be careful what they wish for.