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Not to be Taken Seriously

Oaths should be taken very seriously. The Torcaso decision, which was one brick in a wall of cases which sought to "separate" Christian principles from civil government, removed God from oaths 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[1] correctly noted that the oath had been reduced from a solemn and weighty act of eternal consequence to a mere "amenity."[2]

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] 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 that when I have finished work for a client, the client would remark, "Hmmm; lawyers aren't that bad after all." 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 Meaning of the "Support Oath"

(1) Violent Overthrow of the State

The U.S. Supreme Court has said that the meaning of the oath to "support the Constitution" means that one is "dedicated to the peaceful and reasoned settlement of disputes between men, and between a man and his government."[10] An issue in many loyalty oath cases has been whether the applicant was planning to overthrow the government by force or violence.[11] The oath is thus understood to signify "a commitment not to use illegal and constitutionally unprotected force to change the constitutional system."[12]

I am completely, wholeheartedly and passionately committed to resolving disputes without violence, and am committed to dissuading others from resorting to force or violence.[13]

I believe that many people who have taken the oath to "support the Constitution" have been committed to the use of violence to change the system and to impose their conspiratorial vision.

(2) The Repudiation of the "Organic Law"

The Supreme Court has also held that the oath to "support the Constitution" is 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 of 1787.[15] Article III of that Ordinance requires:
Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. The utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians; their lands and property shall never be taken from them without their consent . . . .[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 Christian Theocracy.

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 an attorney, maybe I'd better be. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Communists 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 theocracy. 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, enforced by the Government. 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]

This is the heart of this Website. What once was a Christian Theocracy has been turned into a Secularist theocracy. If you doubt this, please keep reading.

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1. Cole v. Richardson, 405 U.S. 676, 92 S.Ct. 1332, 31 L.Ed.2d 593 (1972).  [Return to text]

2. Ibid, 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]

10. Law Students v. Wadmond, 401 U.S. 154 at 166, 91 S.Ct. 720 at 728, 27 L.Ed.2d 749 (1971).  [Return to text]

11. Cohen v. Wright, 22 CalRptr 297 at 310 (1863); Cummings v. Missouri, 71 U.S. 277 at 316-17, 4 Wall 277 at ___, 18 L.Ed. 356 at 361 (1867); Ex Parte Garland, 71 U.S. 333, at 376, 4 Wall 333 at ___, 18 L.Ed. 366 at 369 (1867); American Communications v. Douds, 339 U.S. 382 at 386, 70 S.Ct. 674 at 677 (1950); Wieman v. Updegraff, 344 U.S. 183 at 184n1, 73 S.Ct. 215 at n.1 (1952); Konigsberg (I) v. State Bar of California, 353 U.S. 252 at 259, 77 S.Ct. 722 at 726 (1957); Speiser v. Randall, 357 U.S. 513 at 515, 78 S.Ct. 1332 at 1336 (1958); In Re Anastaplo, 366 U.S. 82 at 88, 81 S.Ct. 978 at 982 (1961); Whitehill v. Elkins, 389 U.S. 54 at 55, 56, 57, 58, 88 S.Ct. 184 at 185, 186 (1967); Baird v. State Bar of Arizona, 401 U.S. 1 at 4-5, 91 S.Ct. 702 at 705 (1971); Application of Stolar, 401 U.S. 23 at 24, 30, 91 S.Ct. 713 at 714, 717 (1971); Law Students v. Wadmond, 401 U.S. 154 at 164, 165, 91 S.Ct. 720 at 727 (1971); Connell v. Higgenbotham, 403 U.S. 207 at 208, 91 S.Ct. 1772 at 1773 (1971); Cole v. Richardson, 405 U.S. 676 at 678, 683-84, 92 S.Ct. 1332 at 1334, 1336-37 (1972); cf. Communist Party v. Subversive Activities Control Board, 367 U.S. 1 at 55-56, 81 S.Ct. 1357 at 1389 (1961).  [Return to text]

12. Cole v. Richardson, 405 U.S. 676 at 684, 92 S.Ct. 1332 at 1337, 31 L.Ed.2d 593 (1972).  [Return to text]

13. If you have any doubts about this, see Plaintiff's Answer to Defendant's Interrogatories, No. 1.  [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. See discussion in Barton, Myth, p. 37-39.  [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]