Lanterns: The Oath To Office Explained

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The Oath To Office Explained

The United States is a nation of laws.

 

Ours is not an arbitrary government where the opinions of some are the rule. Because of the laws in our constitutional republic, there is something that all public officials, elected officials, and anyone who works for government have in common. That is their oath of office. 

It used to mean something to Americans when our country was young, but nowadays it is, at best, a requirement for getting a paycheck. When the oath to office is properly understood, it becomes apparent that we, the people, have much more power over our government than we currently recognize.

In my discussion, I will deal with the federal government and the State of Florida, since that is where I live. Most other states I have investigated have similar ideals that are espoused; you should check with your state constitution for the specifics.  I recommend all people read their state constitution.

In the Florida Constitution, it is clear who has to take an oath, get a bond, and exactly what is said.

Article 2 Section 5(b) Each state and county officer, before entering upon the duties of the office, shall give bond as required by law, and shall swear or affirm:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, protect, and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States and of the State of Florida; that I am duly qualified to hold office under the Constitution of the state; and that I will well and faithfully perform the duties of  

Florida statutes also are relevant.

Title XLVI- Chpt. 876 - CRIMINAL ANARCHY, TREASON, AND OTHER CRIMES AGAINST PUBLIC ORDER
876.05 Public employees; oath.—
(1) All persons who now or hereafter are employed by or who now or hereafter are on the payroll of the state, or any of its departments and agencies, subdivisions, counties, cities, school boards and districts of the free public school system of the state or counties, or institutions of higher learning, except candidates for federal office, are required to take an oath before any person duly authorized to take acknowledgments of instruments for public record in the state in the following form:
 

I,         , a citizen of the State of Florida and of the United States of America, and being employed by or an officer of   and a recipient of public funds as such employee or officer, do hereby solemnly swear or affirm that I will support the Constitution of the United States and of the State of Florida.

Whom does this include? Each state and county officer. Anyone who receives a paycheck from the state, city, or county here in Florida is required to take this oath. The governor, his whole cabinet, the county commissioners, mayors of counties and cities, school board members, judges, State House and Senate delegates, ALL take this oath. Most of these people are also required to obtain a surety bond.

What is the surety bond for you might ask? The surety bond acts as an insurance policy that protects the taxpayers from monetary penalties incurred by individuals in government. The bond will pay out any claims when the principal (the person who is required to have a bond) fails to abide by the terms of the bond.  The principal will be required to repay the surety for these payouts. This is the action mechanism for the oath. A public official who violates any provision of the law or their oath can have their bond required to pay for any monetary damages against them. If a bond is revoked and one cannot be obtained, then the public official cannot legally receive a paycheck from the entity where they work. In Florida, the state or other entities who employ the official usually pay for this bond. But if a person was uninsurable they couldn't, by law, receive a paycheck from the state or any other entity within the state. Think about how powerful that is.

There was a group a while back I ran across, S.U.F.A. (States United For America) who had a novel idea. When a public official takes an oath, they are offering a contract to anybody who in their area of influence. When a Senator says that he will "support, protect, and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States and of the State of Florida," he/she is presenting a contract to anyone in their district. According to SUFA, all a person has to do is officially accept the offer.

Think of any business that offers a service to the public. There is no connection between the two until the consumer acknowledges and accepts the terms of the contract for the service that was offered. It is the same for oaths of office. Imagine taking a Representative or Senator that has violated their oath to office to trial by jury for violations of that oath? That would be a powerful incentive for the person to follow the law. It would also let the people, in their capacity as a jury, to enforce the rule of law.

Here in the State of Florida, all political power rests with the people. This is plainly spelled out in Article 1 Section 1 of the state Constitution. This is the first clause of our state Constitution.

SECTION 1. Political power.—All political power is inherent in the people. The enunciation herein of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or impair others retained by the people.

This is a very powerful statement and supports, among other things, the idea of prosecuting officials who violate their oaths to office.  We, the people, are the top of the political pyramid and those we elect work for us. They are our employees. Just because they are elected does not mean that their obligation is over to us.

Just the opposite. This is the power of owning the political power in a state. This is the power we have relinquished as a people and need to recover. We have MUCH more than a vote when it comes to public affairs and government actions. We have a duty and a right to make sure the people we place into government follow the laws as written. Their job is to secure our rights and whenever any of them violate that basic tenet they need to be held accountable. Their oath is their pledge to all of the people they represent. No matter their political ideology, following the law is not optional. We, the people, must hold them to their word. We, the people, must make sure that the laws are followed or consequences will be realized. To ignore this is to allow the rampant government we witness today.

At the federal level, we have the Constitution and US codes which support the idea of honoring the oath of office.

The last paragraph of Article 6 of the US Constitution describes who is required to take the oath: "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"

In the Constitution, only the president's oath is spelled out specifically. Article 2, Section 1 Clause 8 states:

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Title 5 USC 3331 defines the oath to office for federal employees.

"I, , do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."

Title 5 USC 3333 requires an affidavit by the employee.

"(a) Except as provided by subsection (b) of this section, an individual who accepts office or employment in the Government of the United States or in the government of the District of Columbia shall execute an affidavit within 60 days after accepting the office or employment that his acceptance and holding of the office or employment does not or will not violate section 7311 of this title. The affidavit is prima facie evidence that the acceptance and holding of office or employment by the affiant does not or will not violate section 7311 of this title."

Which leads us to Title 5 U.S.C. 7311:  

"An individual may not accept or hold a position in the Government of the United States or the government of the District of Columbia if he—
(1) advocates the overthrow of our constitutional form of government;
(2) is a member of an organization that he knows advocates the overthrow of our constitutional form of government;
(3) participates in a strike, or asserts the right to strike, against the Government of the United States or the government of the District of Columbia; or
(4) is a member of an organization of employees of the Government of the United States or of individuals employed by the government of the District of Columbia that he knows asserts the right to strike against the Government of the United States or the government of the District of Columbia."

Simply put, if a government worker supports unconstitutional activities or organizations that are contrary to the Constitution, they have violated their oath and have negated their right to work in government for the people. If they register a vote that is contrary to the supreme law of the land then they have violated their oath and lose their ability to hold office. This is the potential power of the oath of office. This is why it exists.

The United States is a nation of laws. The supreme law of the land in the Constitution which almost all of the employees of the various levels of government take an oath to uphold and defend. When these employees break their oath they break the law which should lead to a trial by a jury of the people. If wrongdoing is determined then expulsion from whatever office they hold at the time is the minimum penalty.  This idea applies to all who take the oath. This is one way we can hold officials accountable for their actions. This is another check and balance we have allowed to erode over the years and one that must be employed at the present to rein in the out of control government we see today.

 

Written by Frank Caprio

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