Missouri's 7th District, U.S. House of Representatives




Congressional Issues 2012
The Oath of Office

An oath is supposed to be a solemn promise made in the presence of God. Before becoming a legislator, the candidate places his left hand on the Bible and raises his right toward heaven, and promises to bind himself with the chains of the Constitution.

Most people who have taken a similar oath have never read the Constitution, and don't really feel themselves obligated to ask the Framers of the Constitution what the Constitution means.

Probably 90% or more of our government's budget goes to functions which are unconstitutional. The only powers which the federal government has are those expressly delegated to it in the Constitution. The federal government has no constitutional power in the area of religion, education, medicine, or vitamins. The General Welfare Clause is no exception to this rule.

If an irresponsible son is intentionally given only one dollar in his wealthy father's will, the intent of the drafter of the will takes precedence over the desires of the lazy son.

Those who say they believe in a "living constitution" are failing to observe the most basic principles of legal interpretation. The idea of a "living constitution" allows anyone to decide what the Constitution "means" to them, rather than what the Framers of the Constitution intended it to mean for America.

If we study the ratifying debates, the Federalist Papers, and other public writings of the Founders, we can discern the "original intent" of those who gave us the Constitution.  As Jefferson admonished Supreme Court Justice William Johnson:

On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed. (June 12, 1823)

We must use their understanding of terms if we are to understand the Constitution. Madison wrote:

I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. And if that be not the guide in expounding it, there can be no security for a consistent and stable, more than for a faithful, exercise of its powers. . . . What a metamorphosis would be produced in the code of law if all its ancient phraseology were to be taken in its modern sense. [emphasis added] (to Henry Lee, June 25, 1824)

US Supreme Court Justice James Wilson, who signed both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, said:

The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it.
(Works, "Lectures on Law Delivered in the College of Phila.; Introductory Lecture: Of the Study of the Law in the United States.")

Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, founder of the Harvard Law School and one of the foremost American constitutional commentators:

The first and fundamental rule in the interpretation of all instruments is to construe them according to the sense of the terms and the intention of the parties.
Commentaries on the Constitution, (Boston: Hilliard, 1833) vol. III, p. 383, sec. 400
To say that the thoughts and intentions of the men who drafted the Constitution take second place to the way WE "interpret" the Constitution is to abandon our "government of laws, not of men" to one of arbitrary whim based on the shifting views of political correctness.

But most law schools today teach tomorrow's politicians that we can never really know what the Founding Fathers intended.

By proposing campaign finance laws, many legislators today are admitting that they can't be trusted to keep their solemn oath to "support the Constitution" if someone gives them money to violate it.

"It's Just an Oath"

And this is due in part to the myth of "the Separation of Church and State." While the Constitution supports the separation of churches and state, the modern myth of separation is a separation of God and State. But America is a nation "under God."

Today the oath to "support the Constitution" is not taken seriously. This is because oaths in general are not taken seriously.  At the time the Constitution was written, an oath was understood to be a solemn declaration made to and in the presence of God. In 1961 the US Supreme Court ruled God out of the oath of office. But removing God from an oath is like removing water from a swimming pool: all that is left is an empty shell. The Court in Cole v. Richardson correctly noted that the oath had been reduced from a solemn and weighty act of eternal consequence to a mere "amenity."[1]

No one takes an "amenity" seriously. The rise of Secularism has meant the decline of oaths. Prof. Sanford Levinson, having been admitted to practice in California, suspects that

many of us did not reflect with any great seriousness on the[] meaning [of the loyalty oaths we have signed]. Assuming that we noticed them at all, many of us probably treated them roughly the same way my law students responded to part of a document that they are required to submit to the Bar Association as part of the process of becoming a lawyer. All applicants must sign a statement indicating that they have read the Code of Professional Responsibility and pledge their adherence to its demands. The overwhelming majority of my students freely indicated that they had perjured themselves: They had not in fact read the Code, and they treated the affirmation that they had as a mere formalism, not to be taken seriously . . . . How many of us who have taken loyalty oaths are any different?[3]

I have read and heard many Professors of Constitutional Law admit that they do not require their students to read the Constitution from "We the People" to "ratifying the Same." Indeed, with the current controversy over "originalism" or "original intent," it may be academically unfashionable to require students to read the complete text of the Constitution.[4] The great constitutional scholar E. S. Corwin was

told that Professor Powell of Harvard carefully warns his class in Constitutional Law each year against reading the Constitution, holding that to do so would be apt to "confuse their minds." Certain it is that of the 6,000-odd words of the constitutional document, at least 39 out of every 40 are totally irrelevant to the vast majority, as well as to the most important, of the problems which the Court handles each term in the field of constitutional interpretation.[5]
It is not stretching credulity to claim that a large proportion of law students who have successfully passed a Constitutional Law class in law school have never actually read the Constitution.[6] And as the quest for high salaries in legal practice begins (to pay off school loans) the likelihood of taking time to read the increasingly-irrelevant Articles of the Constitution becomes even smaller. As a result, no one can seriously doubt that a large percentage of people who have been admitted to the Bar or have assumed public office and have taken a solemn oath to "support the Constitution" have never even read the Constitution in its entirety.

This fact is not unknown to "the man on the street." Among lawyers and politicians, promises seem to be easily made; few are treated as sacred and eternally binding[7] - especially if rich clients or new voting blocs emerge. The crumbling edifice of the Legal Profession's integrity has left its dust in everyone's eyes, and popular "lawyer jokes" are just the tip of an iceberg of skepticism Americans have about the legal system.[8]

Can Kevin Craig take an oath to "support the Constitution?" Some will say "No!" He passed the California Bar Exam but was not given a license to practice law because he is a Christian, and the U.S. Supreme Court has held that Christians are prohibited from taking the oath to "support the Constitution" which is required of Attorneys. The Court reasoned as follows:

The Apostle Peter said that Christians "must obey God rather than man" (Acts 5:29). This means that if the Office of Homeland Security determines that Muslims are "a threat to our national security," and orders all non-Muslim Americans to shoot all Muslims on sight, Christians will disobey the order of the Office of Homeland Security. The Supreme Court said this proves that Christians are not loyal to the Constitution; their ultimate allegiance is to God. 

Of course, this ruling is totally contrary to the Original Intent of America's Founding Fathers, who believed that this is a nation "under God." The reasoning of the Court is seen in the exclusion of many Christians from jury duty because they vote according to their conscience, refusing to enforce immoral laws, voting "not guilty" in such cases, regardless of "the law" or "the facts." (more)

I have actually read the entire Constitution(!). I can honestly say I have a great deal of affection for the document, a passionate interest in its history, a love of the academic legal literature, and a great desire to practice law.[9] I believe I would be more justified in saying "I support the Constitution" than many, many people who have taken a solemn oath to that effect. And yet, the Court has ruled that I cannot do so.

The Oath and America's "Organic Law"

The U.S. Supreme Court has said that taking an oath to "support the Constitution" was "simply. . . an affirmation of 'organic law'. . . ."[14] The "Organic Law" is the fundamental law of the State, its constitutive principles. It is the legal foundation upon which all statutes and decisions are to be grounded. In West's edition of the U.S. Code, the section on "The Organic Laws of the United States of America" contains such documents as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Northwest Ordinance.[15]

One part of America's Organic Law makes a stunning declaration about the purpose of education. In his concurring opinion in Engel v. Vitale, 370 US 421 at 443, the case which removed voluntary prayer from public schools, Justice Douglas admitted:

Religion was once deemed to be a function of the public school system. The Northwest Ordinance, which antedated the First Amendment, provided in Article III that 
Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.[16]

I agree emphatically that "Religion, morality, and knowledge [are] necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind," so I could certainly affirm the "organic law" to that extent.[17] An 1892 Supreme Court decision (Holy Trinity v. U.S) lists other "organic utterances." I am generally in agreement with these organic laws. They are clearly supportive of a nation "under God."

So swearing to "support the Constitution" is not a difficult task for me. It's not like I'm some kind of Communist revolutionary.

But if I want to be a Congressman, maybe I'd better be. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Communists and Nazis can take the oath to "support the Constitution," but people with my religious beliefs cannot take the oath to "support the Constitution" in "good faith." That is, says the Court, we would be lying if we took that oath. How could the Court come to this conclusion?

They first had to conclude that the Constitution was meant to establish a secular nation. And the only way they could do that was to violate the words of their oath of office. The U.S. Supreme Court has repudiated the nation's "organic law," though they solemnly swore to uphold it.[18]

What a tremendous irony. Atheists have taken an oath to uphold the "organic law" of the country, which requires Christianity to be taught in public schools. They have violated their oaths. Christians, on the other hand, have been only too willing to conform to the pressure of the Secular Humanists and promise never to let their Christianity affect their actions as politicians.[19]

Most Americans support our organic law. Most Americans believe America ought to be a nation "under God."

In his famous "Farewell Address," George Washington said:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness - these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle

Your vote for Kevin Craig will give him a chance to support America's organic law.

"Violating" an unGodly Oath

We've talked about keeping one's oath.

Now let's talk about consciously, deliberately, violating an unGodly oath.

The Westminster Confession of Faith, written over 350 years ago, declares,

Chapter 22:VII. No man may vow to do any thing forbidden in the Word of God, or what would hinder any duty therein commanded, or which is not in his own power, and for the performance whereof he hath no promise or ability from God. [Acts xxiii. 12, 14; Mark vi. 26; Numb. xxx. 5, 8, 12, 13.]  In which respect, popish monastical vows of perpetual single life, professed poverty, and regular obedience, are so far from being degrees of higher perfection, that they are superstitions and sinful snares, in which no Christian may entangle himself. [Matt. xix. 11, 12; 1 Cor. vii. 2, 9; Eph. iv. 28; 1 Pet. iv. 2; 1 Cor. vii. 23.]

What about taking an oath to "support the Constitution" when such an oath really means "support an unconstitutional regime acting in the name of the Constitution only"?

In "Again, May God Forgive Us," William Norman Grigg writes:

We need to dispense immediately with the idea that releasing the second batch of photos depicting torture and other abuse at Abu Ghraib and six other installations would create an unacceptable danger to U.S. troops in the region.

Though it seem callous of me to point out as much, we should recognize that people who enlist in the military are paid, trained, and equipped to confront danger. We should also recognize that we do the cause of liberty no favors if we make it easier to invade and occupy foreign countries; indeed, we ought to do everything we can to accentuate the difficulty of carrying out criminal enterprises of that sort.

While we should focus most of our hostile attention on the policymakers responsible for sending the military on imperial errands of that sort, we shouldn't ignore the moral responsibility of every individual who enlists in the military and carries out the killing business such immoral policies entail. Given the pervasive stench of imperial corruption exuded by all of our public institutions, I cannot understand how anybody possessing the moral equivalent of the sense of smell could enlist in the military, or remain therein -- as if that particular organization enjoys some peculiar immunity from the decadence that afflicts the rest of the Regime.

Desertion is a moral imperative when continued service implicates a soldier in crimes against God and mankind.

Yes, American enlistees swear an oath in God's Name. Then again, so do Mafiosi. Nobody outside of that criminal fraternity considers it improper for a Mafia footsoldier to renounce his oath. No oath of service can sanctify participation in a criminal enterprise. What should distinguish a republican military from an armed gang is a sacred commitment to the rule of law -- meaning the defense of individual liberty and property, and the enforcement of measures that limit the power of government.

next: Scandals in the Clinton Administration


1. Cole v. Richardson, 405 U.S. at 685, 92 S.Ct. at 1337; 31 L.Ed.2d 593 (1972).  [Return to text]

3. S. Levinson, Constitutional Faith 183 (1988).  [Return to text]

4. R. Bork, The Tempting of America: The Political Seduction of the Law, Part II, "The Theorists" 133-265 (1990).  [Return to text]

5. E. Corwin, Constitutional Revolution, Ltd., 13 (1941).  [Return to text]

6. One "original intent" law professor used to assign The Federalist Papers to his class, who regularly complained about the degree of difficulty reading the volume. He responded sympathetically, noting that the students could not be expected to understand The Federalist because it was not written for post-graduate law students in the latter years of the 20th century, but for a group of people with a much better education and greater thirst for liberty: farmers in upstate New York, circa 1787. D. Barton, Education and the Founding Fathers, p. 3 (1992).  [Return to text]

7. Cf. Psalm 15:1,4. ("Who may abide in Your Tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your Holy Hill? He who swears to his own hurt, but does not change.")  [Return to text]

8. Philip K. Howard, The Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America, New York: Random House, 1994. See also  (lengthy list of Internet "Web sites" containing "lawyer jokes").  [Return to text]

9. without threat of prosecution for doing so without a license.  [Return to text]

14. Cole v. Richardson, 405 U.S. 676 at 682, 92 S.Ct. 1332 at 1336, 31 L.Ed.2d 593 (1972), citing Ohlson v. Phillips, 304 F.Supp. 1152 (Colo. 1969).  [Return to text]

15. 1 U.S.C.A 17-23 (West, 1988). The Ordinance was originally approved while the nation was still under the Articles of Confederation, but was repassed by Congress while it was formulating the First Amendment so that it would remain in effect under the new Form of Government. Annals of the Congress of the United States, Wash. D.C.: Gales & Seaton, vol. 1, pp. 56 (Senate), 660 (House).  [Return to text]

16. Northwest Ordinance, Sec. 14, Art. III, 1 U.S.C.A 21. (West, 1988). Schools were required by the federal government to teach religion in those states admitted into the Union under the Northwest Ordinance. The constitutions of states admitted as late as 1875 (Nebraska) contained almost identical language, requiring the teaching of Christianity in the public schools. Commended by the U.S. Supreme Court in Church of the Holy Trinity v. U.S., 143 U.S. 457, 469.  [Return to text]

17. It is noteworthy that as Secular courts have removed Christianity as the Theocratic base of American law, "religion, morality and knowledge" have also been removed from the nation's schools. See the statistics in Barton, Myth, pp. 207-220. And as Americans learned that they were their own gods, tribal lands were also removed from the Indians. Theology matters; ideas have consequences. The defective theology of the Founders (above, note 82) metamorphosed into a pseudo-christian "civil religion" whose "manifest destiny" justified greed, commercial imperialism, and the oppression of the Indians. The Calvinist Christian example toward native Americans is seen in The Life and Letters of David Brainerd, (J. Edwards, ed., c. 1750).  [Return to text]

18. Oh - wait, I'm sorry; they didn't "solemnly swear." That was just a secular oath they took. It was just an "amenity." No biggie.  [Return to text]

19. Prof. Levinson describes the capitulation of ostensibly Christian politicians to this secular pressure: S. Levinson, "The Confrontation of Religious Faith and Civil Religion: Catholics Becoming Justices." (Symposium on Politics, Religion, and the Relationship Between Church and State) 39 De Paul Law Review 1047 (1990). See also S. Levinson, "Taking Oaths Seriously: A Comment on Carter and Sunstein," (Symposium: Language, Law, and Compulsion) 2 Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities 113 (1990); see generally J. Buckley, "Bound by Oath; The Constitution's Emphasis on Religion Should Be Taken Seriously," 80 ABA Journal 113 (1994).  [Return to text]

20. R. Rushdoony, The Messianic Character of American Education (1963), R. Rushdoony, This Independent Republic: Studies in the Nature and Meaning of American History (1964).  [Return to text]

21. No, I'm not making that up; would that I had to: M. Bruner, et. al., "The Meaning of Meaning in a Post-Meaning Age," 46 Int'l. Soc. Sci. J. 285 (1994).  [Return to text]

22. Id. It is said that [abandonment of the Christian epistemology of the Founding Fathers] brings "freedom" and "openness and acceptance," but "we must also be cognizant of the possibility that these very qualities could contribute to unusually, even radically, cynical, nihilistic and solipsistic Weltanschauungs [world-and-life views] among students who not only think that 'they are the world' but who very shortly will be." Id.  [Return to text]

23. In law, see J. Whitehead, The Second American Revolution (1982). In philosophy, see R. Rushdoony, The Word of Flux: Modern Man and the Problem of Knowledge (1975) ("Having dispensed with God, man has also in effect dispensed with a knowable universe." at 6.)  [Return to text]

24. Levinson, Constitutional Faith, "'Nihilism' and the Professing of Law," 157, citing P. Carrington, "Of Time and the River," 34 J. of Leg. Educ. 222 (1984), and O. Fiss, "The Death of the Law?" 72 Cornell L. Rev. 16 (1986).  [Return to text]

25. Levinson, ibid., 183.  [Return to text]