Nothing on the House floor is simple — not even the reading of the document which establishes the House.
Prior to the reading, which began at 11:05 a.m., Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) used a parliamentary inquiry to ask Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) which version of the Constitution would be read. The original Constitution with amendments tacked on the end? Or the Constitution with the amendments incorporated into the main text?
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) explained:
"I want to be very clear in reading this sacred document," said Jackson, who prefers the version with amendments at the end. "Given the struggle of African Americans and the struggle of women to create a more perfect document, we want to hear those elements of the Constitution that have been didacted. They are no less serious a part of our struggle and many of us don't want that to be lost."
Goodlatte explained that Jackson would not get his wish, and that the amended version would be read. However, Republicans said they will allow Rep. John Lewis (R-Ga.), a prominent African-American civil rights activist, to read the portion of the constitution that abolishes slavery.
"They are not deletions, they are amended," Goodlatte said. "We do not go by the deleted document, we go by the amended document.
The first four readers were as follows: Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — who appeared to have her section memorized — Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).