Congressional Dishonesty

Congressional Dishonesty

BUNKERVILLE | God, Guns and Guts Comrades! by Mustang

Whenever someone violates an oath or a vow, either by swearing to what is untrue, or through omission (concealing truth), intentional or otherwise, or to fail to do what has been promised under oath, they are guilty of false swearing.  In our judicial system, we call this perjury.

It is a felony, punishable by fines or imprisonment.  We’ve even seen where high-ranking officials have been sent to jail for lying to federal law enforcement officers.  As an aside, the prefix per– in Latin means “harmful,” so whenever someone perjures themselves, they do harm to the truth.  Not all lying is perjury —only lying under oath or lying to a member of the FBI.  Now, of course, a person may avoid perjury by refusing to make an oath, or in law enforcement or judicial matters (including testimony in congress) by claiming his or her right against self-incrimination.

What brought me to this discussion was the post of a few days back about the recently elected and seated member of Congress, Rashida Tlaib.  The oath she took reads as follows:

“I, (State your name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States.”

This oath, by the way, is required:

“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; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” — U.S. Constitution, Article VI, clause 3

Not everyone back then agreed.  During the Constitutional Convention, the question arose, should an oath be required at all in a free country?  James Wilson, a delegate from Pennsylvania, said that oaths only provided “left-handed security.”  A good government, he argued, did not need an oath, and a bad government ought not be supported at all.  Noah Webster agreed with Wilson when he said that oaths were instruments of slavery and a badge of folly[…]

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