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What is the Constitution Annotated?

In Custodia Legis: “For over a hundred years, the Constitution Annotated—officially The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation—has served as Congress’s Constitution of record. A Senate document, the Constitution Annotated surveys and illuminates how the Supreme Court of the United States has interpreted every provision of the Constitution throughout the nation’s history. Because the Constitution shapes congressional oversight and legislative actions, Congress has ensured its availability to members of Congress from the Republic’s earliest days. Beginning in 1795, “for the more general promulgation of the laws of the United States” (ch. 50, 1 Stat. 443 (1795)) Congress required “a complete edition of the laws of the United States, comprising the constitution” and other laws of the land, to be collected and printed. On March 3, 1797, Congress passed legislation (ch. 27, 1 Stat. 517) to print a personal copy of the above-mentioned collection for each member. By the 1830s, these copies were indexed so that members could quickly locate relevant provisions. Lists of Supreme Court decisions interpreting constitutional provisions were featured in copies of the Constitution that Congress provided to members in 1896. By the turn of the century, the length of these lists of decisions led to another innovation—a Constitution annotated (50 Cong. Rec. 197 (1913)) with explanations of Supreme Court decisions that interpreted constitutional provisions. This annotated version proved popular not only with Congress but also with the general public. Responding to public demand, Congress provided for the publication of additional copies of the annotated Constitution so they could be distributed to federal courts, depository libraries, and sold to the public. This version of the document has evolved into today’s hard-bound Constitution Annotated, which is published every 10 years with a supplement insert issued every two years containing cumulative updates. The next hard-bound edition, which has grown to almost three thousand pages, is scheduled to be published in 2022…”

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