A guest column by Mel Kelly

Do you know this oath?

“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.”

It is the oath of office taken by all members of Congress before their term of service begins. (It is Article VI of the Constitution which states that members of Congress "shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation to support this constitution.")

Do you notice anything missing in this constitutionally mandated oath of office?

Nowhere does the oath demand party loyalty, blind or otherwise! The only loyalty expected of elected participants is to the “true faith and allegiance” to the Constitution of the United States.

According to Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, “The greatest danger to American freedom is a government that ignores the Constitution.”

Indeed, the very first oath of office, penned in May 1789 for members and civil servants, read: "I do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States."

And yet, 230 years later, on Feb. 25, 2019, Republican former members of Congress deemed it necessary to write this “An Open Letter to Republican Members of Congress” to their successors:

“As Republican Members of Congress, each of us started with one central understanding of our party’s overarching commitment: to honor our pledge to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. After each election, when our constituents granted us the privilege to again represent them in Congress, we renewed that pledge. It has always been a Republican fundamental principle that no matter how strong our policy preferences, no matter how deep our loyalties to presidents or party leaders, in order to remain a constitutional republic we must act within the borders of the Constitution. Our oath is to put the country and its Constitution above everything, including party politics or loyalty to a president.”

So what has happened that today’s legislators too often behave in lockstep to a leader instead of to the Constitution? Why has party or leader loyalty taken precedence over conscience and/or the Constitution? Have the high ideals of our Founding Fathers failed in the implementation of the government they created?

It was Founding Father James Madison, in his Federalist Papers who directed that, in a democratic government “the legislative authority necessarily predominates.”

America’s Founding Fathers made it clear in the Constitution that the House and Senate are to be the check preventing any president from abusing the powers of office.

Do you know that violation of the oath of office is codified as a violation of federal law?

‘…5 U.S.C. 3333 requires members of Congress sign an affidavit that they have taken the oath of office required by 5 U.S.C. 3331 and have not or will not violate that oath of office during their tenure of office…”

“In regards to protecting oneself from "abusive" public servants, check out the "neglect to protect" by persons under Oath, and Title 42 USC 1986, wherein a person having "knowledge of the law,” "the power to stop a wrong" and the "duty to prevent a wrong from being done" is liable for any failure to act. Should they fail to prevent a wrong, having knowledge of the law, the power to prevent, and the legal or moral duty to prevent the wrong…suit can be brought for violations.*

Perhaps our best strength on behalf of our country’s future is in heeding the words of President Abraham Lincoln who said, “Our safety, our liberty, depends upon preserving the Constitution of the United States as our Fathers made it inviolate. The people of the United States are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution."