Ed Markey fails his oath of office in his vile attack on Amy Coney Barrett
Among the many Democrats throwing fits over Justice Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation, one glaringly stood out. Sen. Ed Markey, the Democrat from Massachusetts known for his liberal progressive bona fides, issued a bitter judgment of Barrett's judicial philosophy in a Senate floor speech hours before her confirmation last Monday evening. He specifically took aim at Barrett's embrace of constitutional "originalism," which is the theory that the Constitution's text ought to be given the original public meaning that it would have had at the time it became law.
Markey then took to Twitter. "Originalism is racist. Originalism is sexist. Originalism is homophobic. Originalism is just a fancy word for discrimination."
With that tweet, Markey has essentially said our nation's Constitution is "racist." By his logic, any effort to understand it, and understand its words at the time they were written, is itself racist, sexist, and bigoted, thereby implying that our Constitution itself is imbued with those traits. Markey's words are no less than a modern-day challenge to the primacy of the document as the foundation of our national rule of law and system of government, which can then only be construed as attempting to undermine the foundation and efficacy of our constitutional republic.
Progressives like Markey have long derided the theory of "originalism," often arguing that the Constitution is an imperfect document written during a different time in American history and should be interpreted based on the "spirit of law" rather than the written word. But Markey's attack takes progressives' animus toward the Constitution and its rights contained to new levels. Rather than having to fight the many individual cases and issues of citizens' rights along with the "checks and balances" built into the American system of government, this was a public salvo aimed at undermining the United States by attacking the Constitution itself. Nothing threatens the progressive agenda more than the Constitution safeguarding individual citizens' rights such as "freedom of speech," "freedom of religion," the "right to bear arms," and "freedom to assemble."
But when Markey took office, he was required to take a sworn oath of office that first and foremost mandates fidelity to the Constitution. To make such an attack on our founding document required Markey to willfully and purposefully go back on his own sworn pledge that he was required to take before he could begin his legislative activities as a senator.
The oath of office that Markey (and every senator) is sworn to reads:
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.
Why should Markey be held to the oath he swore? An oath is a solemn promise, often invoking divine witness, regarding one's future action or behavior. It is the reason nearly all professions have oaths. The words act as a binding contract to hold them accountable for their ethical actions, their behavior, and ultimately their decisions. When people swear an oath, they often show that the oath is very important to them by calling God to see and remember the promise, and to show that the promise is true and cannot later be taken back. Every new elected official, including the president, is required by law to take an oath to "support and defend the Constitution," an act that harkens back to the country's founding and its first principles.
The Constitution itself contains an oath of office only for the president. For other officials — including members of Congress — that document specifies only that they "shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution."
To Republicans' credit, Markey's assertions did not go unchallenged, Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah being the most vocal with his admonishment. "I can't think of a statement that has a greater tendency to undermine the foundation of our constitutional republic. I hope, expect, and demand that Sen. Markey retract his statement. It is irresponsible; he can't defend that," Lee said.
"They [Democrats] don't want the courts to be limited to judging institutions. They want them to be institutions of social change, of social policy, they want them to take debatable matters beyond debate and, so, that is why this isn't satisfying to them[.] ... They want something much bigger, much grander than what the Constitution actually allows," Lee said.
Is it too much for the American public to expect that a U.S. senator will honor the oath he has sworn to "support and defend the Constitution"? Lee's demand for only the retraction of Markey's contentious words now seems, on whole, only a mild rebuke, as such a contemptible attack on the Constitution itself must also be judged a violation of Markey's own sworn oath to "support and defend the Constitution." If one cannot honor an oath he has taken — as a binding contract sworn before God to hold them accountable –- what faith and trust can then be placed in him to carry out his duties as an elected official? Senator Markey must re-commit to and abide by the oath he swore if he is to remain in office.
Colonel Chris J. Krisinger, USAF (ret.) served in policy advisory positions at the Pentagon and twice at the Department of State. He was also a National Defense Fellow at Harvard University. As a military aviator, he piloted C-130 "Hercules" transport aircraft. Contact him at email@example.com.