Given Senator Reid's previous displays of appalling ignorance regarding the history of and motivation for the establishment of our American republic, I very much doubt that he can even identify the source of the quote he so blithely mutilated. It is certainly obvious that Senator Reid does not understand the content of John Adam's famous declaration.
When Adams wrote "We are a nation of laws and not of men" into the Massachusetts Constitution in 1780, he was emphasizing the conviction of the times that the structures and strictures of the Constitution – in this case the Constitution of Massachusetts, but generally the Constitution of the United States – was a law to be held inviolable by the fickle and self-serving whimsies of men. When Senator Reid uses the phrase "nation of laws," he means a nation of arbitrary legislative fiats – precisely the sort of government John Adams was warning against.
Some may perhaps be inclined to forgive a man who has spent over half his adult life in the legislature for becoming bemused by the misperception of legislative power. There are others, however, who would point out that for all of those thirty years Senator Reid has been under oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States – which, in Article I Section 8, places specific restrictions on legislative powers.
I can't say for certain why Senator Reid added "and women" to John Adam's quote, but I'm pretty sure it was a Freudian slip. He was subconsciously emphasizing his subliminal conviction that all Americans – men and women alike, mind you – are subservient to the overweening power of the federal government. To Harry Reid's mind, all men and women in America are chattels to be used – and if necessary sacrificed – for the greater glory of the all-knowing Oz in Washington.
Senator Reid's example of the mindless ignorance and arrogance rampant in our nation's capital should give us pause – if not alarm. Such outrageous behavior should initiate, at the least, a demand for term limits on members of the legislative branch and, at the most, a demand for formal and public examination of the background, philosophy, and knowledge of the Constitution of any candidate for legislative office.
Legislation is not law, Harry, and if it violates the Constitution, it's not even legal. That is the law of which we are a nation!