Heritage Foundation Book Guides Senator on the Constitution

Unlike his Democratic colleagues, Republican Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.) came prepared to Samuel Alito’s confirmation hearings with the Constitution — that is, the first-ever clause-by-clause examination of the complete Constitution.

Sen. Tom Coburn with The Heritage Guide to the Constitution.
Credit: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Coburn was photographed with The Heritage Guide to the Constitution on his desk this week. It’s a new book put together under the supervision of former Attorney General Edwin Meese in conjunction with the nation’s preeminent conservative think tank — The Heritage Foundation.

How did one of the Senate’s preeminent conservatives end up with the book?

Professor Matthew Spalding, one of the primary contributors to The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, said he gave Coburn a copy in December when the senator visited the Heritage Foundation.

"We discussed its contents for some time, and how it might be useful for him during the hearings," Spalding said.

The Heritage Foundation distributed books to senators on the Judiciary Committee and other key players, including committee staff.

It’s ironic, Spalding said, that Heritage first shared the book with senators after Harriet Miers’ nomination.

"We had originally distributed books to the Judiciary Committee for the Harriet Miers hearings," Spalding said, "and sent a copy to those who were preparing her for the hearings, noting that the book had been distributed to the committee. She withdrew the next day."