• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Nancy Pelosi: Reader of the Constitution

    The sublime irony of having Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) not only participate in a reading of the Constitution, but be assigned Article I, Section 1, seems to have been lost on those who attended the first-ever reading of the august text in the House of Representatives this morning.

    This, after all, is the same Nancy Pelosi who gave us gave us the now infamous “Are you serious? Are you serious?” in response  to a reporter who had the nerve to ask her which part of the Constitution authorized Congress to compel individuals to purchase health insurance.

    It’s also the same former speaker of the House who pushed through, by tooth and claw, the legislative monstrosity known as the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”—a law, if one can call it that, that creates dozens upon dozens of federal agencies to whom the task of drafting regulations—i.e. legislating— is delegated.

    This explains Pelosi’s other infamous utterance on Obamacare: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” We need to wait for the bureaucrats—unelected, unknown, and unaccountable—to fill in the blanks by crafting the actual regulations that will make up the law.

    Yet the very first clause of the Constitution, which the new House Minority Leader read this morning, says: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”

    As the Honorable Douglas Ginsburg explains in a new Heritage essay on the meaning of that clause, fittingly entitled Legislative Powers: Not Yours to Give Away: “the principle of non-delegation is fundamental to the idea of a limited government accountable to the people.”

    Not only are delegations of legislative powers to agencies unconstitutional, but “Congress may exercise only those legislative powers ‘herein granted.’” And should anyone have missed the point, the Tenth Amendment drives it home once again: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    If the Senate ever takes up the reading of the Constitution, maybe Harry Reid (D-NV) could be assigned the Tenth Amendment.

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    19 Responses to Nancy Pelosi: Reader of the Constitution

    1. Kevin H, college par says:

      The BIGGEST irony of the Republicans reading of the Constitution is that two Republicans have already violated the Constitution. In less than 2 days, on the very same day that Republicans made a big show by reading the Constitution, 2 of their Members have voted without being sworn in – directly violating the Constitution. Amazing!

    2. Bobbie says:

      Nancy Pelosi should be pretty embarrassed. As should all in the democrat party. I hope it stands that every bill has the appropriate constitutional authorization as rule. This proves the worth of those GOOD willed to lead. Democrats should be ashamed of their lack of knowledge of the Constitution and especially those that took oath. THEY LIED!

      With the constitutional authorization rule, the country will rebuild it's strength, run efficiently and respectfully. If democrats have any amount of a conscience, they would apologize. We don't expect Obama to, it is his intent to destroy.

      I just can't believe the negativity of the President regarding the constitution, yet he still took oath to it and did everything BUT live up to it! Yet we the people can't hold him accountable upon immediate notice? Please implement a law of accountability to said words regarding the oaths of elected officials so there can be accountability.

      Just a mention:

      When, how and why did community organizers come about? What does that say about the community? What is the achievement and what were the achievements of Obama's when he was one? How come we haven't heard a word from a single soul under his title as "community organizer?" who pays for it? AND how much?

      The title itself sounds so demeaning and degrading of the people, in the community. Brings potential ability to brainwash and indoctrinate the community.

      I know it's a state's issue, but my goodness, what a waste of money and individual minds with a wealth of suspicion.

    3. West Texan says:

      As I've stated before, the U.S. Constitution's meaning is more complex than a simple reading. Numerous Amendments have been added or repealed. The biggest concern with such revision is whether or not it changes the basic intent of our founders' design. Social progressives argue that it's a fluid document open to change with the times. Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin would have fully supported this assessment. The constitution's primary author and his close friend and ally, who penned the Declaration of Independence, were basically constructionists. The first ten amendments proves my point. If the constitution is so structurally malleable, then why not just wing it per the demands of "rulers" like Obama, Reid and Pelosi. Sure new minority leader read it out load. Nothing but camouflage frosting to Pelosi and her comrades.

    4. Scot, New Jersey says:

      Kevin H.

      Really? Really? That is what you find amazing?

      - Not the blatantly unconstitutional and dictatorial powers that were granted to the Secretary of HHS by the PPACA?

      - Not the unconstitutional issuing of Net Neutrality regulations by the FCC with no authority to do so, even after both the Congress and the court reaffirmed they have no authority over the Net?

      - Not the failure of the Obama Justice Department to prosecute voting rights violations against the Black Panthers…even after they already won the case by default?

      Seems to me you need to re-focus a bit.

    5. West Texan says:


      "If the constitution is so structurally malleable, then why not just wing it per the demands of “rulers” like Obama, Reid and Pelosi? Sure the new minority leader read it aloud. Nothing but camouflage for Pelosi and her comrades."

    6. Don G. Dinsdale, St. says:

      I could be wrong, but isn't disregarding the Constitution in some way against the law? And if it isn't it should be! Could those that put the Country in such peril subject to prosecution for perpetrating a fraud against the citizens they represented, could be done as a class action against each one, such as Reid, Pelosi, Frank, Dodd just to name four, maybe the suit could be against every one who voted each time to barry us… Grrrr, I'm really mad, I don't know that the Tea Party and other Conservative Republicans will have enough time to get us out of this mess… Please stay on top of these people, I'm starting to not trust any of them… I'll do my part by sending monthly reminders to my Representative and Senators… I also will become more involved with the local Tea Party group in Southern Ut, and if there isn't a "Chapter" maybe start one, "We the People" must stay much more involved in our government, be it city, county, state and federal, we have prof what happens when we don't…

    7. Bill Hodges, Oakland says:

      Hell, that might have been the first time she's even read the Constitution!! Now, if only she would comprehend what she's read!

    8. Dennis Georgia says:

      She read, but failed to understand the meaning of what was read. I think all people in Congress should have to pass a written test on the Constitution, one that would require them to study and understand it.

    9. Gary Arlington,Texas says:

      Don't expect Harry to even know what the Constitution is,much less read part of it.

    10. Nancy Ziegler, Cinci says:

      Just remember, Nancy Pelosi's husband's companies and his cronies are behind much of what she does. Go to the source. She's just an ignorant puppet and a true disgrace to women, grandmothers and Wisdom Seekers.

    11. Kevin H, college par says:

      Yes, Scot – i find it particulalry amazing. The Repubs and teapartiers have talked over and over and over about the Constitution and sticking to it and abiding by it at all times, yet it only takes them one day in control of the House to violate it multiple times – by voting when they were never administered the oath and holding a fundraiser in the capitol while they should have been at the swearing in. Just shows hwo much they talk the talk, but don't walk the walk.

      You can accuse the health reform bill of violating the Constitution, but it hasn't. More judges have said it is valid than the handful appointed under Bush who ruled against it. There is nothing in the bill that is unconstitutional, as much as the health insurers want you to believe it, along with their many other lies.

      Talk about needing to refocus? You are really talking about Black Panthers and voting, but the Citizens United case doesn't get mentioned. Allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts during campaigns – you have no issue with this? That's insane. Just watch what happens in 2012 and 2014. There could be a Senator or Represenative that is loved in their state or disctrict, but all it will take is corporate ceo to throw 10, 20 or 30m into a campaign to accure that Member of being a domestic abuser, drug user, etc.. and suddenly the people won't like that Member as much. You'll start seeing poltical hitmen popping up all over, knowing now, there will be unlimited amounts of cash that can be thrown into any race. But i guess you have no problem with Joe the pumbler being considered as the exact same thing as Walmart.

    12. Denise, Utah says:

      I know 3rd graders who sound more intelligent than Nancy. It's either lack of gray matter or senility. She is unfit for her job. Too bad that the rest of the country has to put up with San Francisco voters' poor choices for representation. At least she had to pass on the gavel so we will be spared from her inane comments.

    13. Bobbie says:

      anti-American exaggerator:

      i find it particularly amazing. The Repubs and teapartiers have talked over and over and over about the Constitution and sticking to it and abiding by it at all times, yet it only takes them one day in control of the House to violate it multiple times – by voting when they were never administered the oath and holding a fund-raiser in the capitol while they should have been at the swearing in. Just shows two much.

      American: When one's conduct of their elected position exemplifies the constitution, why be childish and waste the time? Actions speak louder than words!

      All it should take is some out of all that honor the constitution to be present amongst those who exemplify dishonor to it. It's commendable to have elected leaders use their available time productively at fund-raising than increasing corrupt costs and thieving taxes.

      anti-American: Allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts during campaigns – you have no issue with this? That’s insane.

      American: People who earn their way, have freedom to spend it anyway they want. To be anti-American is insane.

      Corporations give much more to the desperate party, not known as Republicans, definitely not conservatives, but the ones who have to bribe for votes who refuse to disclose their corporate contributions. If democrats didn't use corporation donations how could they pay for their ads of defamation of character, fear mongering, manipulation, deception? Steal it from the anti-freedom social programs they provide at American tax payers expense?

      Where did all that money Obama spent on himself come from?

      anti-American: "You can accuse the health reform bill of violating the Constitution, but it hasn’t. More judges have said it is valid than the handful appointed under Bush who ruled against it."

      American: Neither by Judge nor Bush, the health care reform bill is unconstitutional. Neither by judge nor Bush will the constitution be interpreted according to their personal meaning but according to the meaning of the Constitution, itself. But as most are aware, all it takes is the executive order of a defiant man in the leadership role of presidency.

      To call it valid by a judge when it is unconstitutional, invalidates the judge and the call. But like I say, executive order of a defiant man…

      And Joe the plumber and Walmart? Joe the plumber is one man that took on a position to able him to take care of his own expenses of his own life's responsibilities. You know, what America is all about.

      Oh, wait, no you don't. You look for mom and dad to do it for you. That's right. The corporation Walmart doesn't make sense to compare.

      Kevin H., you really need to refocus and learn what America is all about. Or move to a variety of countries you seem to describe you want to see people live in.

    14. West Texan says:

      To College Park, MD

      Ever hear the term activist judge? That's right, they're just as guilty of politically biased decisions regardless of what the constitution states. In fact, you may benefit from reading what went into the constituion before saying Obamacare is constitutional. As far as big corporate money during campaigns, the grassroot Tea Partiers had no George Soros to fund them. And yes, the Soros failed to buy the mid-term elections.

    15. Tom Georgia says:

      Liberalism is one of the results of the apparent trait that's embedded in human nature that causes individual human beings to seek ways to live at the expense of other people and to be provided a prosperous existence by the things of material value that are produced by the efforts of other people.

      Working people of America: Please be aware that it is you who are receiving the biggest screwing over by the liberals that you keep voting for because you believe they can deliver on their false promises. If the promises are delivered upon, it will be through your efforts and endeavors that delivery will be made.

      All of the laws written by mankind are and will always be subsidiary to and subject to any of the laws of nature.

    16. Jeff, Pennsylvania says:

      If factually correct, then Kevin is right to state that Congressmen should not be allowed to vote until sworn in. We really should demand absolute compliance with the Constitution of ALL public officials, elected or otherwise. And since Congress does only 2 things well, overreact and nothing, we should encourage "nothing."

      Regarding Obamacare: no Constitutional provision requires private citizens to purchase anything, and the 10th Amendment reserves all other powers to the states and citizens. But, hey, if you really think I should be required to purchase health insurance, then let's use the 2nd Amendment to require you to purchase a gun. It's for your own protection.

      Regarding Citizens United. It's called the First Amendment: Congress shall make no law impinging upon free speech. But, hey, if you really believe that corporations aren't entitled to free speech, then let's apply it to corporations belonging to the Motion Picture Association of America and to all other "legal fictions," starting with labor unions.

    17. Pingback: World Spinner

    18. Dee Oldman, Everson says:

      I appreciate my free copy of the Constitution from the Heritage Foundation. I admit that in 60 years, I had never read it. As the wife of a conservative(and there aren't many) high school history teacher, he wishes they were available to all his students.

    19. George (Oldguy), Wes says:

      Violating their oath may well be against the law! Look at this sections of the U. S. Code:

      5 USC Sec. 2903

      TITLE 5

      PART III

      Subpart A

      CHAPTER 29


      *[71 U.S. 333, 334] ON the 2d of July, 1862, Congress, by 'An act to prescribe an oath of office, and for other purposes,'1 enacted:

      'That hereafter every person elected or appointed to any office of honor or profit under the government of the United States, either in the civil, military, or naval departments of the public service, excepting the President of the United States, shall, before entering upon the duties of such office, take and subscribe the following oath or affirmation:

      5 U.S.C. Sec. 3331 01/06/97



      Subpart B – Employment and Retention



      Sec. 3331. Oath of office


      An individual, except the President, elected or appointed to an office of honor or profit in the civil service or uniformed services, shall take the following oath: ''I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.'' This section does not affect other oaths required by law.

      'Any person who shall falsely take the said oath shall be guilty of perjury; and, on conviction, in addition to the penalties now prescribed for that offense, shall be deprived of his office, and rendered incapable forever after of holding any office or place under the United States.'

      18 U.S.C. Sec. 1621 01/26/98




      Sec. 1621. Perjury generally

      Whoever -

      (1) having taken an oath before a competent tribunal, officer, or person, in any case in which a law of the United States authorizes an oath to be administered, that he will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly, or that any written testimony, declaration, deposition, or certificate by him subscribed, is true, willfully and contrary to such oath states or subscribes any material matter which he does not believe to be true; or (2) in any declaration, certificate, verification, or statement under penalty of perjury as permitted under section 1746 of title 28, United States Code, willfully subscribes as true any material matter which he does not believe to be true; is guilty of perjury and shall, except as otherwise expressly provided by law, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. This section is applicable whether the statement or subscription is made within or without the United States.

      What do you think?

      How do we start the process?

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.