Friday, January 19, 2007

Madison Wisconsin Aldermen Add Oath to Work Against State Constitution

This from ADF's blog,

They did it - and by a landslide. The Madison City Council voted overwhelmingly to allow city officials to take a special oath of office. As I explained in an earlier post, public officials in Wisconsin are required to take an oath pledging to uphold the federal and state constitutions. The requirement is, in fact, set forth in the Wisconsin Constitution itself (Article IV, section 28). Section 19.01 of the Wisconsin statutes requires that, with certain exceptions that are not pertinent here, "every official oath" shall be substantially adhere to a statutorily prescribed form:

I,...., swear (or affirm) that I will support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of the state of Wisconsin, and will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of the office of.... to the best of my ability. So help me God.
By a vote of 14-4, the Madison city alders (as one local blogger calls them) voted to allow those assuming office to add to the official oath a statement that they took it under protest and promise to "work to eliminate [the state's marriage amendment]" and work to prevent any discriminatory impact from its applications.

The Madison City Attorney thinks that this is all right and that is not surprising. He breathes the air there. But it is far from clear that a statement that says, in effect, I took the oath and didn't mean it and will work to undermine a provision of the constitution that I do not like meets either the statutory or constitutional requirements. In endorsing this type of nullification, the City echoes John Calhoun and twentieth century southern segregationists. That must hurt.

There may be a bright side. If those who can only take the faux-oath are, indeed, ineligible to assume office, some measure of common sense may return to Madison city government.

If a house is divided against itself, it cannot stand.
- Jesus Christ, Mark 3:25