Much primary and historical material relating to the enactment of the U.S. Constitution is online. The Library of Congress Primary Documents in American History collection and Yale Law School’s Avalon Project’s The American Constitution – A Documentary Record are well-known and well-used.
But in honor of Constitution Day, I’d like to highlight The Founder’s Constitution, the freely available web edition of the five-volume anthology published in 1987 by the University of Chicago Press. Although the web edition is searchable, and has material organized by theme, a most useful feature is the organization by clause.
I’ve been thinking about redistricting, since Washington is gaining a Congressional seat, and the first set of maps drawn by the four voting members of the State Redistricting Commission were released this week. So I went to The Founder’s Constitution, clicked on Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3, and found a collection of links directly to writings on point. I stopped there, but if I had the time and need, I could have explored the “see also” references.
On a related note, although the University of Washington’s Constitution Day website is up, the big event, to me at least, is later in the fall when all the students are on back on campus: the “read aloud.” Sponsored by the UW Libraries and organized by US Documents Librarian Cass Hartnett, “UW Reads the US Constitution” is always moving and often surprising. It’s funny how each year I seem to hear new language, or hear it in a new way. I love that new readers sign up, and I love the core of old-timers. I love that people show up at all. It’s the best lunch hour of year.
Sunlight reports that "Seven months ago, the order was given for the legal treatise, known as the Constitution Annotated (or CONAN), to be published online, but so far without result."
- O Conan! Where art thou? Legal treatise a no-show by Daniel Schuman, Sunlight Foundation (June 21, 2011).
On August 18, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified giving women the right to vote and participate in the political process! Most states ratified right away; but 10 states held out. Georgia and Louisiana didn't get around to ratifying until 1970(!).
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
And in memory of that momentous occasion, don't forget to check out what libraries have to offer. You'll find lots of books, images and more at the sites below:
- Marching for the right to vote: remembering the woman suffrage parade of 1913> (part of the American Women collection at the Library of Congress)
- By Popular Demand: "Votes for Women" Suffrage Pictures, 1850-1920
- Votes for Women: Selections from the National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection, 1848-1921
- Worldcat search for Women's suffrage (find library materials near you)
- National Archives Women's history collection
- Then and Now: Faces of Suffrage - International Museum of Women
[Thanks Debra Bowen (@CASOSvote)]
We've posted previously about the Plum Book and how this simple US govt phonebook has been surreptitiously changed to further a political agenda. Now Think Progress has picked up the story. They point out that both the 2004 and 2008 editions offer a startling — and erroneous — assertion: The office of the Vice President is not in the executive branch. Both versions put the description of the VP’s office last under “Appendices,” rather than in the Executive Branch section:
The Vice Presidency is a unique office that is neither a part of the executive branch nor a part of the legislative branch, but is attached by the Constitution to the latter. The Vice Presidency performs functions in both the legislative branch (see article I, section 3 of the Constitution) and in the executive branch (see article II, and amendments XII and XXV, of the Constitution, and section 106 of title 3 of the United States Code).
New from the Miller Center at the University of Virginia is the official web site for the National War Powers Commission.
In keeping with its tradition of assembling national commissions of major stature, the Miller Center has convened the National War Powers Commission, a private bipartisan panel led by former Secretaries of State James A. Baker, III and Warren Christopher. The Commission will examine how the Constitution allocates the powers of beginning, conducting, and ending war.
Here's the official press release announcing the commission.
PDF; 2 pages.