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.