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Preserve, protect and defend

Today I completed my training to be certified as a poll manager for Spartanburg County in South Carolina. I should get a letter in the next couple of weeks telling me where I will be working. One of the next steps in the process is to swear an oath (South Carolina Constitution Section Article III Section 26) before the Clerk of Court:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I am duly qualified, according to the Constitution of this State, to exercise the duties of the office to which I have been appointed, and that I will, to the best of my ability, discharge the duties thereof, and preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of this state and of the United States. So help me God.

I’ve never had occasion to swear an oath before to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and I look forward to doing so, considering it a serious and solemn privilege to serve my state and my country. On the other hand, I feel I have always tried to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, oath or no. As I contemplate taking this oath, my thoughts move towards the significance of taking the oath and what it means.

 

George Washington taking the Oath of Office

I haven’t thought much about this blog as “defending the Constitution,” but in a way it does. The framers of our republic clearly intended the country to be guided by enlightened reason and the rule of law. That’s what this blog seeks to do–encourage enlightened reason and respect for law. A considerable portion of this blog deals with certain birther attempts to misrepresent the Constitution regarding who is eligible to assume the office of President of the United States. It also, in some small measure and in certain narrow areas, seeks to explain how the law and the courts work.

I have long felt a certain similarity between the legal doctrine of standing and the Mormons’ doctrine of revelation. Mormons believe that any member of the Church can receive a revelation from God; however, they further believe that true revelation comes in the context of an individual’s responsibility from which it follows that only the head of the Church would receive a revelation applicable to the whole church. (So when Cody Judy claimed that he had a revelation that he should be the head of the Church, that wouldn’t be seen as valid.)

These concepts of revelation and standing seem to apply also to defending the Constitution, and this is where some of those on the right wing misapply their oaths. I do not criticize birthers for bringing their grievances before the courts, although I criticize them for doing it over and over. The access to the courts is their privilege under the law. Terry Lakin swore an oath to defend the Constitution, but it was not his responsibility to have the President vetted, and I criticize Lakin for breaking the law in his attempt. Defending the Constitution is done within the context of respect for the laws made under the Constitution.


Note: Eligibility to be a poll manager in South Carolina requires one to be a registered voter and to live in the county (or a county adjacent to) where one serves.

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21 Responses to Preserve, protect and defend

  1. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG September 18, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

    Congrats Doc!

  2. avatar
    Daniel September 18, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

    //I feel I have always tried to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, oath or no. //

    Any oath is best served, when it’s not really required

  3. avatar
    Bonsall Obot September 18, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

    Daniel:

    Any oath is best served, when it’s not really required

    RIKER: I have been assigned to serve this ship and to obey your orders. And I will do exactly that.
    KARGAN: Will you take an oath to that effect?
    RIKER: I just did.

  4. avatar
    The Magic M (not logged in) September 19, 2014 at 4:15 am #

    George Washington taking the Oath of Office

    <birfer>Is that the Bible or the Qu’ran?</birfer>

  5. avatar
    The Magic M (not logged in) September 19, 2014 at 4:17 am #

    Eligibility to be a poll manager in South Carolina requires one to be a registered voter and to live in the county (or a county adjacent to) where one serves.

    I’m going to challenge your eligibility and start the blog doctorconspiracyconspiracy.org at once.

  6. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy September 19, 2014 at 7:44 am #

    The blog is already there at http://davidsonconspiracy.org/ . I forget which one of our banned commenters runs it. I had to go and look to see if it was still there, and it is.

    The Magic M (not logged in): I’m going to challenge your eligibility and start the blog doctorconspiracyconspiracy.org at once.

  7. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy September 19, 2014 at 7:46 am #

    It was a Masonic Bible.

    The Magic M (not logged in): <birfer>Is that the Bible or the Qu’ran?</birfer>

  8. avatar
    Bonsall Obot September 19, 2014 at 7:54 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    The blog is already there at http://davidsonconspiracy.org/ . I forget which one of our banned commenters runs it. I had to go and look to see if it was still there, and it is.

    That blog is a bit sad. I wonder if the operator imagines anyone reads it.

  9. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy September 19, 2014 at 8:53 am #

    I was surprised when I looked today to see that it had a post as recent as this past January. The operator is Ken Olsen (had to look it up). I’ve never read it.

    Bonsall Obot: That blog is a bit sad. I wonder if the operator imagines anyone reads it.

  10. avatar
    Bonsall Obot September 19, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    You are being your customary charitable self, Doc; I don’t see any new updates in at least a Friedman Unit.

  11. avatar
    Bonsall Obot September 19, 2014 at 9:41 am #

    Aaaand… your edit makes my last reply incongruous. 😉

  12. avatar
    y_p_w September 19, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    Were you given the option to leave out “so help me God”?

    Article VI, paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution:

    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

    I’m taking an interest in this because of a case in the Air Force. An airman wanted to reenlist, but was told that they wouldn’t accept his reenlistment unless he said it. They just backed off Wednesday after the DoD general counsel’s office basically told them to cut it off since they were making the military look bad.

    Apparently several states still have such laws on the books, but they aren’t enforced because they know it’s unconstitutional. They stay on the books because nobody has standing to sue given the laws aren’t enforced. South Carolina is one of those states.

  13. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy September 19, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    I haven’t taken the oath yet, but there is no “out” in the wording of the South Carolina Constitution. The South Carolina Constitution also says that no person may be Governor of the state who denies the existence of a “supreme being.”

    y_p_w: Were you given the option to leave out “so help me God”?

  14. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG September 19, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    I think such phrases should be voluntary. Don’t punish an enlistees for not wanting to say it, but don’t punish the ones who want to say it either.

  15. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy September 19, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    Christian scriptures tell us not to swear by anything. Jesus said:

    “Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.” (NRSV) Mat 5:37.

    My understanding of the phrase “so help me God” is that one is not swearing by God, but rather invoking God’s help in carrying out the oath. So while I do not think the oath is appropriate for a government function, I have no personal injury from it, and therefore lack standing to challenge it.

    y_p_w: Apparently several states still have such laws on the books, but they aren’t enforced because they know it’s unconstitutional. They stay on the books because nobody has standing to sue given the laws aren’t enforced. South Carolina is one of those states.

  16. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy September 19, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    Right, nothing since January of 2014, which was more recent that I would have thought. Why update something nobody reads? I actually don’t know what got Olsen so bent out of shape beyond my banning his commenting here. I get banned all the time on opposition web sites–no big deal.

    Bonsall Obot:
    You are being your customary charitable self, Doc; I don’t see any new updates in at least a Friedman Unit.

  17. avatar
    y_p_w September 19, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    I haven’t taken the oath yet, but there is no “out” in the wording of the South Carolina Constitution. The South Carolina Constitution also says that no person may be Governor of the state who denies the existence of a “supreme being.”

    I understand there’s no out in the state Constitution. However, there’s no enforcement either if someone is willing to press the issue. It was decided in Silverman v. Campbell as decided by the South Carolina Supreme Court.

    http://www.sccourts.org/opinions/displayOpinion.cfm?caseNo=24622

    We affirm the circuit court’s holding that South Carolina Constitution art. VI, § 2 and art. XVIII, § 4 violate the First Amendment and the Religious Test Clause of the United States Constitution. The appeals from the denial of summary judgment are dismissed, and the matter remanded for further proceedings.

    The ruling references Torcaso v.Watkins but I’m having a hard time trying to decipher the language they’re using.

  18. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy September 19, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    Torcaso is very interesting reading as to the history of the separation of church and state.

    https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/367/488/case.html

    y_p_w: The ruling references Torcaso v.Watkins but I’m having a hard time trying to decipher the language they’re using.

  19. avatar
    y_p_w September 19, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    Torcaso is very interesting reading as to the history of the separation of church and state.

    https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/367/488/case.html

    SCOTUS only ruled on First Amendment grounds. They basically punted on the Religious Tests Clause. However, it’s pretty clear that under either we’re talking unenforceability.

  20. avatar
    Keith September 20, 2014 at 2:18 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    Christian scriptures tell us not to swear by anything. Jesus said:

    “Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.” (NRSV) Mat 5:37.

    My understanding of the phrase “so help me God” is that one is not swearing by God, but rather invoking God’s help in carrying out the oath. So while I do not think the oath is appropriate for a government function, I have no personal injury from it, and therefore lack standing to challenge it.

    The rest of the quote is:

    (Mathew 5: 33-37 KJV)

    33Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:

    34But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:

    35Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.

    36Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.

    37But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

    I understand your point, and you are much more religiously conscious than I, but I consider taking an oath with ‘So help me God’ as taking the name of the Lord in vain – which is a violation of one of the 10 Commandments as well as against the express teachings of Jesus himself as reported in the above excerpt from Mathew.

  21. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy September 20, 2014 at 7:14 am #

    In my church (Lutheran) we make certain promises as part of accepting new members, and these mutual promises are each concluded by the phrase “and I ask God to help and guide me.” This is how I understand the State oath phrase “so help me God.” But I readily agree that this is not how I understood it before I thought about it.

    Keith: I understand your point, and you are much more religiously conscious than I, but I consider taking an oath with ‘So help me God’ as taking the name of the Lord in vain – which is a violation of one of the 10 Commandments as well as against the express teachings of Jesus himself as reported in the above excerpt from Mathew.