Congressional Constitution Reading Missed An Entire Section

The Republican effort to read the Constitution on the floor of the House on Thursday didn’t come off without at least one mistake:

The U.S. Constitution has still never been read in its entirety and in order on the House floor.

During Thursday morning’s “historic reading,” one member apparently skipped Article 4 Section 4 and part of Article 5 when he or she inadvertently turned two pages at once, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who was in charge of the reading, said on the House floor this afternoon.

Goodlatte returned to the House floor at 2:23 p.m., more than two hours after the error occurred, read the missing sections, and placed them officially in the congressional record.

Here are the portions that were missed:

Article 4 Section 4: The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

Article 5: The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution.

Ironically enough, many conservatives have cited Article IV, Section 4 in arguments over illegal immigration, arguing that the failure to protect the border constitutes an “invasion” and that the Federal Government is therefore not fulfilling its responsibilities under the section.

FILED UNDER: Congress, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    You know they also bowdlerized it to remove the 3/5ths portion, right?

  2. Jack says:

    I won’t condemn the Republicans for missing a section because pages stuck together in their notebook.

    What I *will* condemn, however, is their skipping of the sections regarding slavery and how certain individuals will be counted as “3/5 of of a person” for matters of representation.

    The claim, of course, is that it is a “no longer relevant section of the Constitution”; however, as the unfortunate resident of the only state that has the Confederate Battle Flag as an integral part of the state flag, I must beg to differ.

    Of course, since the GOP could reasonably be branded “the Confederate Party” when one observes the entirety of the candidates presented for election, then I should not wonder why the chose to omit the relevant sections, because hiding the true agenda is preferential than revealing it if they want to remain a national party.

  3. @Michael,

    As much as I consider alll of this a stunt, I must confess that it made sense to read the document as amended, the amended document is the document with current legal force. As such, all of the pro-slavery portions would have been left out, amongst a few other provisiosns.

    In other words if the purpose was to remind the chamber of what the constutuion says as a guide for governance, then it makes sense to read the current versions, not the historical one.

  4. Robert in SF says:

    For some reason, the first thing I thought of when I read what the missing part was, was when Bill O’Reilly told San Francisco that the Federal Government, through the armed forces/military, shouldn’t defend them should they be invaded, because SF didn’t want the military to recruit when they had a discriminatory practice in place (DADT)….little did I realize that he should have been targeted as an anti-constitutionalist!

    From an unvetted transcript, but seems to be right based on my memory of the video:
    “And if al-Qaida comes in here and blows you up, we’re not going to do anything about it. We’re going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead,” O’Reilly continued, referring to the 1933 San Francisco landmark that sits atop Telegraph Hill.

  5. Robert in SF says:

    I am going to apologize for my mistake above. I was wrong about the ban on military recruiting, and the rationale for that ban.

    I will research more in the future before I rely on memory alone for comments that make factual claims.

    Sorry about that.
    Here is the actual ballot initiative language:

  6. Michael says:

    As much as I consider alll of this a stunt, I must confess that it made sense to read the document as amended, the amended document is the document with current legal force.Did they do that for every amended part, or just the ones about slaves?

  7. Michael says:

    bah, forgot to close by <blockquote%gt;

  8. Michael says:

    I miss the old preview-able comment system 🙁

  9. @Michael:

    It is my understanding that they read it as amended in toto.

  10. Mike Chambers says:

    The reading of the Constitution was a wonderful gesture that could have really set the tone, but they lost all credibility by reading it to an empty chamber. There was nothing any of them had to do that was more important than spending just an hour and a half respectfully being present, and paying attention to the reading.

  11. MarkedMan says:

    Reading the amended version was dishonest, given the that the Repubs are constantly setting up the founding fathers as ideals of wisdom, and the constitution as sacred. By removing the changes, they helped perpetrate that politically useful charade.

  12. @MarkedMan:

    In fairness, when we talk of “the constitution” as the governing document, we are talking about the constitution as amended.