Paul Jacob

James Madison, father of our U.S. Constitution, must be rolling over in his grave. You see, he forgot to put love in it.

By congressional edict, schools and universities across the nation were recently required to spend some time on or around September 17 teaching about the Constitution. That's the date our nation's founding document was ratified back in 1787.

Robert Byrd, West Virginia's Ku Klux Klan leader turned Senator, authored the legislation. Byrd's considered something of a constitutional scholar by his congressional colleagues. (Mobsters, no doubt, thought Al Capone an expert on criminal justice.)

The law mandates any educational institution receiving federal funds (meaning virtually every school imaginable) to acknowledge this anniversary in some manner. One such institution of higher learning, Irene's Myomassology Institute in Southfield, Michigan, was forced to comply because some students training to be tomorrow's masseuses receive federal money. The Institute gave students a flier.

Marlboro College in Vermont held a parade featuring professors dressed up as constitutional articles and amendments. Virginia's James Madison University celebrated with a "We the People" cake and a trivia contest.

Senator Byrd, on a break from his important pork-barreling activities, said he was "pleased" with the enthusiasm of teachers and students. He added, "They seem to be interested in this Constitution more than ever." Yes, nothing like a mandatory law to force people to show genuine enthusiasm.

Now, I embrace the idea of students learning about the Constitution. In fact, I long for the day. I'm no party pooper, either, especially since the ratification of our Constitution is as celebration-worthy an event as any in man's long history.

But instead of a shindig, how about just reading the document?

That goes for students as well as congressmen. It's shorter than most homework assignments and certainly more concise and less encumbered by legalese than the mammoth bills congressmen regularly pass. Also unread.

And, if it doesn't run too much against the grain, even judges could read the Constitution.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.