I was watching C-Span after getting home from work and they were showing tape of the reading of the Constitution on the floor of the House.
This was the idea of the new Republican majority. It caused a mild stir in some quarters; there was criticism that the Republicans were playing to the Tea Party.
Frankly, I don't care why they did it. I enjoyed watching it. To paraphrase Jerry Maguire, the politicians in Washington live in a cynical world. It's a place where, I think, the Constitution is viewed by some as an interesting relic not very relevant to modern governing by modern political elites.
To me, the Constitution is not an interesting relic. I have spent my career working under the protection of the First Amendment, which states.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
The First Amendment was the theoretical foundation of laws such as the federal Freedom of Information Act, enacted by Congress 45 years ago, which gave citizens the right to inspect government records. And state open records and open meetings laws. They all flowed from the First Amendment, and we use these every day in our work, because free speech and freedom to publish are hollow rights if governments are allowed to do everything in secret.
There are some different views of this reading of the Constitution. Charles Krauthammer argues that it represents the thinking of those who think that government has strayed way too far from the Constitution -- the mandate to purchase insurance in the health care law being the best example.
Alex Altman, of the blog, Swampland, has a more nuanced view, and quotes Jefferson in support of it. (Although you can pretty much find any Jefferson quote to suit any side of an argument.)