Today, on the birthday of the Constitution, more than 20 organizations and individuals called for better public access to the legal treatise Constitution Annnotated, a government publication that explains the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court. Although updated on a frequent basis and readily available to congressional staff, the complete Constitution Annotated is released to the public only once a decade -- scrubbed of helpful metadata. Updates reflecting recent Court decisions are released separately every two years, far short of what’s available to Congress.
We believe the Constitution Annotated should be published online as it is updated and with metadata intact. Because it is prepared in XML, this is relatively easy to do.
Last September, the Sunlight Foundation called for the release of the Constitution Annotated, a call that was joined by Senator Feingold in October. Although the Congressional Research Service and the Government Printing Office have held a meeting regarding its release, as the parties respectively responsible for authoring and publishing the document, they still have not acted. It is time.
The signatories urge Senators Schumer and Bennett and Representatives Brady and Lungren -- who lead the relevant House and Senate committees -- to prod CRS and GPO to make this vital resource available to the American people intact and on a timely basis.