Mike Parker: Should new investigations focus on others in high office?
As a new Congress begins in January of every odd-numbered year, all duly elected members of the U.S. House of Representatives and one-third of the members of the U.S. Senate take the oath of office. In the House, the Speaker of the House directs members to rise and then administers the oath. A Senator-elect takes the oath under the direction of the presiding officer in an open session of the Senate.
The current oath for members of the U.S. Congress reads as follows:
“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.”
Let’s unpack a few provisions of this oath. First, members of Congress swear or affirm they will support and defend the U.S. Constitution against all enemies — whether foreign of homegrown. In the case of the Constitution, “support” carries the obligation to “uphold or defend as valid or right” and “promote the interest or cause of,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
Members aver to “defend” the Constitution. One meaning of defend is “drive away danger or attack.” A second meaning is “to maintain or support in the face of argument or hostile criticism.”
Those taking that oath also pledge to “bear true faith and allegiance to the same” to the U.S. Constitution. To bear “true faith” means keeping one’s promise with sincere intentions.
Those taking the oath assure the people of this nation and their respective states they “take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.” In other words, those who take this oath promise us they have no uncertainties about our Constitution nor are they trying to evade anything in that Constitution.
Article 2, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution provides:
“The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice-President chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:
“Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.”
How is the president of the United States elected? The procedure is clear from Article 2, Section 1. Each state legislature is free to determine the method for appointing electors for that state. The number of electors is equal to that state’s number of representatives in the U.S. House plus two more electors for the senators. North Carolina is currently allotted 13 U.S. House members and also has two senators. Therefore, North Carolina’s electoral vote totals 15.
This method of electing the president stemmed from debate among our founders. States with small populations wanted each state to be equal in number of electors. The states with greater population wanted the number of electors based on population. The provision concerning electors developed as a compromise to provide balance between these divergent interests.
This “electoral” system became part of the U.S. Constitution — a document all members of Congress pledge to defend and support with true faith and allegiance — without reservation or evasion.
How then can we see such a large number of 2020 Presidential candidates — many who are prominent members of the House or Senate — campaigning on a platform to abolish the electoral college?
By the way, the term “electoral collegge” is not even used in the U.S. Constitution.
States are free to choose electors in any way their legislatures see fit. A state can decided all electors will be bound to follow the national popular vote — as Colorado has considered. A state can decide to award electoral votes based on the outcomes of individual congressional district vote tallies. A state can decree — as most do now — all that state’s electors must vote for the winner of the popular vote in that state.
But for those currently serving as members of Congress to openly propose abolishing the so-called Electoral College means they are untrue to the oaths or affirmations they gave when they were sworn into office. They obviously have reservations.
Let me leave you with one more definition.
According to Merriam-Webster, perjury is: “the voluntary violation of an oath or vow either by swearing to what is untrue or by omission to do what has been promised under oath.”
Perhaps Robert Mueller can begin his next investigation into what seems to be blatant perjury among some members of Congress.
Mike Parker is a columnist for Neuse News. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org .