Search This Blog

Monday, January 1, 2024

Liz Cheney on Oaths

Many posts have discussed oaths of office.

Liz Cheney, Oath and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning (New York: Little, Brown, 2023), 49.

  In Article VI of our Constitution, the founders required that every member of Congress, all state legislators, and “all executive and judicial officers” of the federal and state governments take an oath to support and defend the United States Constitution. For elected representatives, the oath must supersede any duty to represent their constituents. They must represent constituents’ interests solely in a manner that complies with their representatives’ paramount duty to the Constitution.

The president’s oath is arguably the most consequential. The president has tremendous power to enforce his will—not only as our commander in chief, but as the constitutional officer who can command the actions of critical executive branch agencies. The founders had utmost confidence inthe wisdom and grace of George Washington. But they were not convinced that every future president would be so honorable. This is why Article II of our Constitution details precisely what the president must pledge: to“faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States” and to“preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”Under our Constitution, the president is selected by a separately organized group of Americans, called Electors, chosen nowadays through popular election in each state. The founders were concerned that a faction in Congress might conspire to control the selection of a president. They granted Congress what is, in most circumstances, only a ministerial role: counting the electoral votes that have been certified and transmitted to Washington by the individual states. As Alexander Hamilton explained in Federalist 68, “No senator, representative, or other person holding a place of trust or profit under the United States” can serve as a member of the Electoral College.

She had written a speech against the effort to stop the count.  Because of the insurrection, she never gave it on the floor, but presents it in the book (86-87):

Our oaths are not given to any specific president. They are given to preserve the Constitutional structure that has governed our republic for over 230 years. The oath does not bend or yield to popular sentiment, mob rule, or political threats. We do not compromise our oath. It compels us to adhere to the Constitution and rule of law… always.