Senator Feingold Urges Posting of Constitution Annotated Online

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Last week, Senator Feingold sent a letter requesting that the Government Printing Office post the Constitution Annotated online. The Constitution Annotated is a public document, and a great resource on the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution. It is nominally publicly available, but is online only in a PDF format. The Constitution Annotated contains analysis of 8,000 cases so to be truly useful, it seems obvious it must be searchable.

The GPO can take a simple step toward greater transparency by making this document available to the public in a navigable format. It could also ensure that rather than updating the Constitution Annotated every two years, as is the current practice, updates are posted in real time, as Senator Feingold also requested in his letter.

As Chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee, Senator Feingold gets it. We hope the Government Printing Office gets it too.

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  • Daniel Schuman

    The two points raised above were addressed in an earlier blogpost, available here: http://blog.sunlightfoundation.com/2009/09/17/220-years-later-its-time-to-publish-the-constitution-annotated-online-in-xml/

    Releasing the treatise in XML would allow for the easy sharing of information between different kinds of computers, applications, and organizations, and provide a roadmap to the underlying data.

    Briefly, CONAN is prepared in XML, but is publicly released in PDF and text formats, omitting significant useful information. It is not released by GPO in HTML format. Rather, Cornell maintains a web version that they update by hand every two years, an arduous (and repetitive) task.

    CONAN is updated on a regular basis, but supplements are publicly released only once every two years, and the entire document is only publicly released every ten years. All of the updates should be released in machine-readable formats when they are made available to Members of Congress and their staff on Congress’ intranet.

  • Dave

    The document is available online in plain text, HTML, and PDF. It’s not easily searchable?

    Come on, Sunlight.

    (Of course, more frequent updates, as provided to members of Congress, is a worthy request.)

  • Hmm. There *is* the HTML version at the Cornell LII:

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/anncon/index.html

    Seems pretty comprehensive, albeit simple.