Friday, September 18, 2009

220+ Years Later, It’s Time to Publish the Constitution Annotated Online in XML

constitutionToday, the Sunlight Foundation called upon the Government Printing Office to publish the legal treatise The Constitution Annotated online in XML format as it is updated. The Constitution Annotated has been written by the Library of Congress for nearly 100 years, and contains analysis of nearly 8,000 U.S. Supreme Court cases.

Over the decades, GPO has published print versions of this extraordinary resource every two years, with limited electronic versions available from 1992 edition onward. Although the Library of Congress has drafted the Constitution Annotated in XML for a number of years, that data is no longer present when it is published online by GPO. 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.

In addition to asking for The Constitution Annotated to be published online in XML, we are also asking that as the data is updated and made available to Congressional staff, it also be made available to the general public. For an example of what that could look like, see Cornell University Law School's transformation of the data.

Today is the 222th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution. In 1787, it was made available to the American people by the most modern technology of the day. We should do no less today, and provide the Constitution (along with commentary) in XML.

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