The Battle Over the 3/5 Clause: The Sequel

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 6 2011 11:13 AM

The Battle Over the 3/5 Clause: The Sequel

Before the reading of the Constitution by House members got underway, two Democrats rose to question how and why it was decided that sections that had been amended out of existence -- such as the 3/5 cause -- would not be read today. Rep. Jesse Jackson (D-Ill.) argued that it might be vital to hear the "deleted" sections of the Constitution, to remind Americans of how some people were cut out of their democracy at times.

"This is done with sincerity," said Jackson, "not to take a shot at the idea of reading the Constitution."

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Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who is managing the vote, explained that Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the Civil Rights era hero turned congressman, would be specially selected to read the 13th Amendment -- one of only very few members reading specific sections, instead of taking his turn in a line.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) was unhappy with Jackson's request, for one reason. "It's important that we use the language of the Constitution," said Gohmert. "These are not deletions . They are amendments . Too many have fought and died for the Constitution to call them deletions ."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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