The Constitution? There’s a New App for That

Talk about a living Constitution — here’s one the framers never saw coming. Today, the U.S. government is marking Constitution Day by launching an official annotated Constitution app that will provide legal analysis and interpretation directly on your iPhone or iPad. (Sorry Android folks, that one is still in development.)

The app is a companion to a new Web resource, Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation. Both the app and the website were developed by the Library of Congress, together with the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration and the Government Printing Office.

The launch of these new resources also coincides with the 100th anniversary edition of the nearly 3,000-page print treatise of the same name, originally published in 1913 and updated every 10 years since. Unlike the print volume, these new resources will be updated multiple times a year as new court decisions are issued. The analysis is prepared by attorneys at the Congressional Research Service in the Library of Congress. The version launched today is current through June 26.

Features of the app include:

  • The full text of the Constitution.
  • The full text of the treatise. A clause-by-clause discussion of the entire Constitution.
  • Discussions of all Supreme Court cases and selected historical documents relevant to interpreting the Constitution.
  • Lists of all federal, state, and local laws struck down by the Supreme Court, and all cases where the court overturned its prior precedent.
  • Tables of contents and cases and an index.

The website version includes the full treatise as a digitally signed, searchable PDF. It includes a linked table of contents, a linked table of cases, a linked index and GPO’s seal of authenticity on every page. A Featured Topics and Cases page highlights recent Supreme Court decisions that demonstrate pivotal interpretations of the Constitution’s provisions.

Be forewarned: This app is a space hog. The iTunes store lists it as 94.1 MB, but the installed version takes up 104 MB on my iPhone.

Note also that the PDF pages do not rotate to landscape view. On an iPhone, that makes for clumsy reading, because to make the text large enough to read easily, you need to constantly slide back and forth across the page.

Visit the new Web page or download the app from the iTunes store.

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