Block Of Jan. 6 Commission Is ‘Failed Stress Test For Our Democracy’

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“On a Memorial Day weekend, when we honor men & women who gave their lives defending our democracy, this Congress has chosen not to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate the worst attack on our Capitol — the Citadel of this democracy — since 1812,” Chuck Todd says.» Subscribe to NBC News: http://nbcnews.to/SubscribeToNBC
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Block Of Jan. 6 Commission Is ‘Failed Stress Test For Our Democracy’

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36 COMMENTS

  1. By principal the stupidest way to handle such a thing. Asking criminals….
    Is that really the end of this discussion?

  2. Mc connol no facts at all
    New or old. Whats, Wrong with you. No oppeligIzing yet by you. No facts to be pushing you.

  3. These are not republicans. These are the G.O.P.arty of organized criminals hard at work trying to destroy democracy in America and turn it into a corporate owned military dictatorship. The only way to overcome this evil is to allow it to die a peaceful death of non-support. Vote BLUE till the G.O.P.arty of organized crime is no more.

  4. Would one of the members of the Senate or Congress being killed changed the perception of Jan 6th? I am ashamed of most of the persons selected to represent THE PEOPLE.

  5. It's just to SAD
    We all saw it
    We all heard it
    Anyone that watched the debates
    Anyone that watched or went to the rallies
    It was planned
    Our President at the time asked his people to come to the capital on January 6th
    Trump has been in control of the GOP
    His Republican party
    Anyone that believes that that wasn't anything like what they are planning for the next time
    To many people are talking about it
    To many people seem to be alright with it
    I really don't want this in our Country
    When it's time to vote just think about January 6th
    From both sides
    No more lifetime positions in our government
    Anyone there right now should probably leave
    We need to clean out our Government
    From top to bottom
    We should not let them act like they do
    They certainly aren't working for any of us
    🇺🇸
    Let's clean her up for us
    For the future of our children and grandchildren
    Peace be with you all
    HUGSZZZ

  6. Expecting Republicans to support an investigation of 6 Jan is like asking for car jackers to support an investigation of their car jacking attempt. This is the state of the Republican party. Both sides don't do it.

  7. It would be a political witch hunt just like the Russia hoax with Mueller. Why waste millions on partisan hit jobs ?

  8. Umm, all I watched on the 6th was conservatives behaving for roughly 4 hours EXACTLY like blm, antifa, progressives and Democrats Have behaved over the last 12 months.

  9. I thinks VP Harris promoting
    job creation in South America
    to reduce the influx of illegals
    is appealing. Biden possibly not give Stimulus chks? F U

  10. Sadly people actually listen to the clowns on MSNBC the horrors please stop you guy's are sickening I actually loved it you clowns in Washington felt what people we're feeling every night in democratic cities around the country AOC God bless her soul she's such a waste she wasn't even there but she's going to therapy I mean she needs it but not because of January 6 something they let happen 🤣 the comments are priceless 🤣

  11. Make no mistake about it: the Marxist-Democrats wanted this Commission so that they could add on their platform of Persecuting Conservatives in America. Biden has already weaponized the DOJ, FBI and DHS against Conservatives and dissenters politically who he and the Marxists view as a threat. This is how Hitler did it in 1933. Create a fake crisis as and excuse to crack down on your dissenters. This has very little to do with Trump and everything to do with the perversion of the Marxist take over of America.

  12. But the imbeciles can investigate Benghazi and attempt to shed poor light on Hilary for 2 years.
    Women in the United States should be appalled.
    Our favorite GOP leaders are misogynists and timid.

  13. I was “duped” by former President Donald Trump and am now unable to provide for my daughter and disabled wife.

    "I was following Trump's directive". As a result of this experience, I have learned not to be so gullible

    and will not be so easily duped again. – J.Hughs (Capitol rioter). When was America great?

    How long is it going to take before Traitor Trump and the rioters are tried for the riots?

  14. Why should this garner more outrage, disgust and cries the system is unjust? Because Democrats and their propaganda National Media arm say so? Faith was lost in our government long before the events at the Capital? It's hard for the American people to believe the "faux moral outrage" shown after the capital when they lived through a year of looting, destruction, lawlessness and killings supported by local Democratic mayor's and politicians with no condemnation by the national Democratic leaders or media? What about Federal Buildings being burned, vandalized and Federal Law Enforcement being attacked and almost killed defending this property? What about Democratic leaders defending the attack of these law enforcement officers? It's hard to now cry foul and expect people to respect the efforts of the party in power to be "fair" and really care about justice? Hyprocisy in action at it's highest levels.

  15. These crazed, Republican leaders are trying to take our country down with their neurotics and insanity. Fight the foolishness, there are dire consequences for being unwise, stupid, and foolish.

  16. The single intent of the federal lawsuit Walker v Members of Congress (a public record) was to compel Congress to obey the law of the Constitution and call an Article V Convention as peremptorily required by that law, the original intent of which has never altered by constitutional amendment. The lawsuit was brought because Congress has refused to obey the law of the Constitution. Such refusal obviously establishes the objective of the members of Congress to overthrow our form of government by establishing they (the members of Congress) can disobey the law of the Constitution and thus overthrow our constitutional form of government.

    http://foavc.org/01page/Articles/Violation%20of%20Oath%20of%20Office%20and%20Walker%20v%20Members%20of%20Congress.htm

    They are PUBLIC SERVANTS
    AND
    THEIR
    OATHS ARE LEGALLY BINDING–!!!

    REPUBLICANS IN OUR GOVERNMENT HAVE CROSSED THE LINE & ATE GUILTY OF HIGH CRIMES & TREASON FOR TRYING TO
    VOID U.S. CONSTITUTIONSL LAWS PROTECTING OUR VOTING RIGHTS & FOR
    FOLLOWING YRUMP IN HIS EVIL LAWLESS CAMPAIGN OF TRYING TO DESTROY OUR GOVERNMENT OUR REPUBLIC FROM EITH OUR OWN CONGRESS AD ACTING MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
    ATTEMPTING TO DESTROY OUR U.S. CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY EHICH IS THE LAW OF THE LAND. THEY SWORE AN OATH WHICH THEY HAVE BLATENTLY REFUSED TO HONOR BY
    TRYING TO DESTROY OUR REPUBLIC & EVERYTHING IN IT THST GIVES THE PEOPLE POWER OVER RLECTED OFFICIALS BY ELECTIONS & MAKING LAWS TO OVER RIDE & THROW OUT THE PEOPLE'S VOTE

    IF

    ILLEGAL VOTES ARE CAST IN AN ELECTION—!

    THERE IS NO PROOF OF ANY ALLEGATIONS THEY ARE THROWING OUT THERE, & ARE INADMISSABLE AD FACTS AND CANNOT BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY IN NEW LEGISLATION.—!

    THEY COULD THROW IN IF A PURPLE UNICORN DEDICATED ON SUNDAY ALL ELECTIONS REDULTS CAN BE THROWN OUT

    NO.

    NEVER.

    RIDICULOUS JUVENILE
    FLY BY NIGHT TACTICS
    ORGANIZED CRIME WOULDN'T EVEN TRY IN OUR USA GOVETNMENT.

    The oath of office and what it means

    By Jeff Neal @JeffNealHR

    October 24, 2019 9:58 am

    7 min read

          

    This column was originally published on Jeff Neal’s blog, ChiefHRO.com, and was republished here with permission from the author.

    Federal employees, Representatives, Senators, judges, political appointees, the President and Vice President of the United States take an oath of office. So what does taking an oath mean? Why even do it?

    The reason is simple – public servants are just that – servants of the people. After much debate about an Oath, the framers of the U. S. Constitution included the requirement to take an Oath of Office in the Constitution itself. Article VI of the Constitution says, “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.” The Constitution does not prescribe the actual text of the Article VI oaths. For federal civil service employees, the oath is set forth by law in 5 U.S. Code § 3331, which reads as follows:

    “An individual, except the President, elected or appointed to an office of honor or profit in the civil service or uniformed services, shall take the following oath: “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.””

            Insight by OptumServe: Health IT practitioners provide on digital medical delivery in the military domain in this exclusive executive briefing.

    The President is also required by the Constitution to take an Oath of Office. Article 2, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution prescribes the Oath. It says, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

    The Oaths are relatively straightforward, but what do they mean? I see the oath as having 3 important aspects. First, the employee swears to support and defend the Constitution against enemies. Second, they swear allegiance to the Constitution. Finally, the employee promises to do their job well.

    One thing that federal workers often hear is a career supervisor or political appointee talking about loyalty to the agency or the boss. One purpose of the Oath of Office is to remind federal workers that they do not swear allegiance to a supervisor, an agency, a political appointee, or even to the President. The oath is to support and defend the U.S. Constitution and faithfully execute your duties. The intent is to protect the public from a government that might fall victim to political whims and to provide a North Star – the Constitution – as a source of direction. Other laws have been enacted that support that view. For example, in 1939, Congress passed and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Hatch Act. We call it that today, but the actual name of the law is “An Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities.”

    The Oath does not remove ambiguity and it is not always easy for an employee to know what to do. Here are a few examples:

    Lawful orders. Let’s say someone in authority gives a federal worker a lawful order that s/he does not agree with. That disagreement might be for ethical reasons, differences in policy direction, or other reasons. Federal employees are required to follow lawful orders, even if they disagree with them.

    Unlawful orders. 5 USC 2302(b) (9)(D) gives employees the right to refuse with respect to unlawful orders. Refusing an unlawful order is not easy. The employee may face significant pressure to carry out an order that s/he knows is unlawful. Most employees never have the experience of being given an unlawful order. In the few cases it has happened to me, an explanation to my boss that what I was asked to do was illegal was sufficient and the matter was dropped. If it had not been enough, my only acceptable course would be to refuse to carry out the order. Doing something illegal because you are “just following orders” is not a viable defense.

    Regulatory violations. What happens when an order violates a regulation or rule, but is not technically illegal? A 2015 Merit Systems Protection Board decision directly answered that question. MSPB outlined the issues in the case, writing “Specifically, the appellant asserted that the agency violated 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b) (9)(D), which protects employees from retaliation “for refusing to obey an order that would require the individual to violate a law.” 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b) (9)(D). He alleged that the agency improperly stripped him of particular job duties and gave him a subpar performance rating for disobeying an order that would have required that he violate (1) a Federal Acquisition Regulation that limits the authority of a contracting officer’s representative (COR), and (2) “PA296: How to be a COR,” the agency’s training course for COR certification, which further clarifies the limitations to this authority.” MSPB’s final decision said “…we hold that the right-to-disobey provision at section 2302(b) (9)(D) extends only to orders that would require the individual to take an action barred by statute. Because the appellant in this case contends that he disobeyed an order that would have required him to violate an agency rule or regulation, his claim falls outside of the scope of section 2302(b) (9)(D).” That means a manager could discipline or even remove an employee for failing to carry out an order that violates a regulation but not a law.

    Other situations. The oath of office and most case law do not grant any protection for deciding that an order is a bad idea, bad policy, or morally wrong. In fact, the oath does not grant any protection from anything. It is an oath of allegiance and a promise to do good work. Employees who believe they are being ordered to act in a manner inconsistent with their oath of office may pursue other options, such as whistleblower complaints, contacting their Senators or Representatives or their organization’s Inspector General, or any other avenue provided by law or regulation. Disobeying direct orders is generally not one of the available options. That means an employee who wants to argue that s/he is adhering to the oath of office by disobeying orders has a very tough hill to climb. There is also the option of going to the press, but that can bring its own set of risks. It is up to individual employees to decide how much risk they are willing to assume.

  17. The single intent of the federal lawsuit Walker v Members of Congress (a public record) was to compel Congress to obey the law of the Constitution and call an Article V Convention as peremptorily required by that law, the original intent of which has never altered by constitutional amendment. The lawsuit was brought because Congress has refused to obey the law of the Constitution. Such refusal obviously establishes the objective of the members of Congress to overthrow our form of government by establishing they (the members of Congress) can disobey the law of the Constitution and thus overthrow our constitutional form of government.

     

    The word “peremptory” precludes any objection whatsoever by members of Congress to refuse to call an Article V Convention. This peremptory preclusion certainly includes joining a lawsuit to oppose obeying the law of the Constitution and it may be vetoed by members of Congress. That act not only violates the law of the Constitution but 5 U.S.C. 7311 as well. When the members of Congress joined to oppose Walker v Members of Congress their opposition became part of the court record and therefore a matter of public record.  Thus, regardless of whatever arguments for such opposition were presented by their legal counsel to justify their opposition, the criminal violation of the oath of office occurred because the members of Congress joined the lawsuit to publicly declare their opposition to obeying the law of the Constitution. Comments

  18. WW1 and 2 were all for naught.
    We are running headlong towards what we fiercely fought against.
    Where millions of democracy loving people died defending the flame of freedom. Cry havoc…
    The world is turning right wing authoritarian fascist. Italy is once again flirting with fascism.
    The Phillipines, Brazil, Myanmar, Argentina, Columbia, this list is getting longer every other day.
    The Trump Republicans will subvert the 2022 elections, and most def 2024.
    Watch.

  19. Lay the blame where it belongs: the GQP blocked this. All on the Republicans. Reason no. 489533577 to vote straight [D].

  20. They failed alright…yes them dems got their pocket book clipped so they can't waste more money…the CIA/FBI etc. have already wasted more than enough on the scandal…

  21. It's been the same for decades. When will NBC News finally realize that the United States has been a fascist country, with two parties that do not really care about human rights, manipulate the economy for the benefit of the wealthy, and maintain a military that far exceeds the budgets of any other country? The fascists in the Senate have no intention of revealing their complicity in a failed coup d'etat!

  22. They are PUBLIC SERVANTS
    AND
    THEIR
    OATHS ARE LEGALLY BINDING–!!!

    REPUBLICANS IN OUR GOVERNMENT HAVE CROSSED THE LINE & ATE GUILTY OF HIGH CRIMES & TREASON FOR TRYING TO
    VOID U.S. CONSTITUTIONSL LAWS PROTECTING OUR VOTING RIGHTS & FOR
    FOLLOWING YRUMP IN HIS EVIL LAWLESS CAMPAIGN OF TRYING TO DESTROY OUR GOVERNMENT OUR REPUBLIC FROM EITH OUR OWN CONGRESS AD ACTING MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
    ATTEMPTING TO DESTROY OUR U.S. CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY EHICH IS THE LAW OF THE LAND. THEY SWORE AN OATH WHICH THEY HAVE BLATENTLY REFUSED TO HONOR BY
    TRYING TO DESTROY OUR REPUBLIC & EVERYTHING IN IT THST GIVES THE PEOPLE POWER OVER RLECTED OFFICIALS BY ELECTIONS & MAKING LAWS TO OVER RIDE & THROW OUT THE PEOPLE'S VOTE

    IF

    ILLEGAL VOTES ARE CAST IN AN ELECTION—!

    THERE IS NO PROOF OF ANY ALLEGATIONS THEY ARE THROWING OUT THERE, & ARE INADMISSABLE AD FACTS AND CANNOT BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY IN NEW LEGISLATION.—!

    THEY COULD THROW IN IF A PURPLE UNICORN DEDICATED ON SUNDAY ALL ELECTIONS REDULTS CAN BE THROWN OUT

    NO.

    NEVER.

    RIDICULOUS JUVENILE
    FLY BY NIGHT TACTICS
    ORGANIZED CRIME WOULDN'T EVEN TRY IN OUR USA GOVETNMENT.

    The oath of office and what it means

    By Jeff Neal @JeffNealHR

    October 24, 2019 9:58 am

    7 min read

          

    This column was originally published on Jeff Neal’s blog, ChiefHRO.com, and was republished here with permission from the author.

    Federal employees, Representatives, Senators, judges, political appointees, the President and Vice President of the United States take an oath of office. So what does taking an oath mean? Why even do it?

    The reason is simple – public servants are just that – servants of the people. After much debate about an Oath, the framers of the U. S. Constitution included the requirement to take an Oath of Office in the Constitution itself. Article VI of the Constitution says, “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.” The Constitution does not prescribe the actual text of the Article VI oaths. For federal civil service employees, the oath is set forth by law in 5 U.S. Code § 3331, which reads as follows:

    “An individual, except the President, elected or appointed to an office of honor or profit in the civil service or uniformed services, shall take the following oath: “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.””

            Insight by OptumServe: Health IT practitioners provide on digital medical delivery in the military domain in this exclusive executive briefing.

    The President is also required by the Constitution to take an Oath of Office. Article 2, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution prescribes the Oath. It says, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

    The Oaths are relatively straightforward, but what do they mean? I see the oath as having 3 important aspects. First, the employee swears to support and defend the Constitution against enemies. Second, they swear allegiance to the Constitution. Finally, the employee promises to do their job well.

    One thing that federal workers often hear is a career supervisor or political appointee talking about loyalty to the agency or the boss. One purpose of the Oath of Office is to remind federal workers that they do not swear allegiance to a supervisor, an agency, a political appointee, or even to the President. The oath is to support and defend the U.S. Constitution and faithfully execute your duties. The intent is to protect the public from a government that might fall victim to political whims and to provide a North Star – the Constitution – as a source of direction. Other laws have been enacted that support that view. For example, in 1939, Congress passed and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Hatch Act. We call it that today, but the actual name of the law is “An Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities.”

    The Oath does not remove ambiguity and it is not always easy for an employee to know what to do. Here are a few examples:

    Lawful orders. Let’s say someone in authority gives a federal worker a lawful order that s/he does not agree with. That disagreement might be for ethical reasons, differences in policy direction, or other reasons. Federal employees are required to follow lawful orders, even if they disagree with them.

    Unlawful orders. 5 USC 2302(b) (9)(D) gives employees the right to refuse with respect to unlawful orders. Refusing an unlawful order is not easy. The employee may face significant pressure to carry out an order that s/he knows is unlawful. Most employees never have the experience of being given an unlawful order. In the few cases it has happened to me, an explanation to my boss that what I was asked to do was illegal was sufficient and the matter was dropped. If it had not been enough, my only acceptable course would be to refuse to carry out the order. Doing something illegal because you are “just following orders” is not a viable defense.

    Regulatory violations. What happens when an order violates a regulation or rule, but is not technically illegal? A 2015 Merit Systems Protection Board decision directly answered that question. MSPB outlined the issues in the case, writing “Specifically, the appellant asserted that the agency violated 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b) (9)(D), which protects employees from retaliation “for refusing to obey an order that would require the individual to violate a law.” 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b) (9)(D). He alleged that the agency improperly stripped him of particular job duties and gave him a subpar performance rating for disobeying an order that would have required that he violate (1) a Federal Acquisition Regulation that limits the authority of a contracting officer’s representative (COR), and (2) “PA296: How to be a COR,” the agency’s training course for COR certification, which further clarifies the limitations to this authority.” MSPB’s final decision said “…we hold that the right-to-disobey provision at section 2302(b) (9)(D) extends only to orders that would require the individual to take an action barred by statute. Because the appellant in this case contends that he disobeyed an order that would have required him to violate an agency rule or regulation, his claim falls outside of the scope of section 2302(b) (9)(D).” That means a manager could discipline or even remove an employee for failing to carry out an order that violates a regulation but not a law.

    Other situations. The oath of office and most case law do not grant any protection for deciding that an order is a bad idea, bad policy, or morally wrong. In fact, the oath does not grant any protection from anything. It is an oath of allegiance and a promise to do good work. Employees who believe they are being ordered to act in a manner inconsistent with their oath of office may pursue other options, such as whistleblower complaints, contacting their Senators or Representatives or their organization’s Inspector General, or any other avenue provided by law or regulation. Disobeying direct orders is generally not one of the available options. That means an employee who wants to argue that s/he is adhering to the oath of office by disobeying orders has a very tough hill to climb. There is also the option of going to the press, but that can bring its own set of risks. It is up to individual employees to decide how much risk they are willing to assume.

  23. Trump & Republicans in public office are evil & their words & actions go against everything in the WORD OF GOD.
    THEY SWORE AN OATH
    THEY REFUSE TO KEEP. DISHONORING THEMSELVES
    BY WORD & DEED THAT IS IN DIRECT OPPOSITION OG THE WORD OF GOD.

    THIS IS HOW WE ARE TAUGHT TO KNOW IF YRUST WORTHY
    TO DISTINGUISH WHERE THE WORDS & DEEDS ATE COMING FROM. IF ONE WITH GOD' S WORD
    TRUST WORTHY.
    IF AGAINST THE WORD OF GOD, REJECT
    & REJECT ALL FROM THOSE SOURSES AS FROM GOD'S ENEMY. THE FATHER OF LIES. THE ACCUSER, SATAN HIMSELF.

    They are PUBLIC SERVANTS
    AND
    THEIR
    OATHS ARE LEGALLY BINDING–!!!

    REPUBLICANS IN OUR GOVERNMENT HAVE CROSSED THE LINE & ATE GUILTY OF HIGH CRIMES & TREASON FOR TRYING TO
    VOID U.S. CONSTITUTIONSL LAWS PROTECTING OUR VOTING RIGHTS & FOR
    FOLLOWING YRUMP IN HIS EVIL LAWLESS CAMPAIGN OF TRYING TO DESTROY OUR GOVERNMENT OUR REPUBLIC FROM EITH OUR OWN CONGRESS AD ACTING MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
    ATTEMPTING TO DESTROY OUR U.S. CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY EHICH IS THE LAW OF THE LAND. THEY SWORE AN OATH WHICH THEY HAVE BLATENTLY REFUSED TO HONOR BY
    TRYING TO DESTROY OUR REPUBLIC & EVERYTHING IN IT THST GIVES THE PEOPLE POWER OVER RLECTED OFFICIALS BY ELECTIONS & MAKING LAWS TO OVER RIDE & THROW OUT THE PEOPLE'S VOTE

    IF

    ILLEGAL VOTES ARE CAST IN AN ELECTION—!

    THERE IS NO PROOF OF ANY ALLEGATIONS THEY ARE THROWING OUT THERE, & ARE INADMISSABLE AD FACTS AND CANNOT BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY IN NEW LEGISLATION.—!

    THEY COULD THROW IN IF A PURPLE UNICORN DEDICATED ON SUNDAY ALL ELECTIONS REDULTS CAN BE THROWN OUT

    NO.

    NEVER.

    RIDICULOUS JUVENILE
    FLY BY NIGHT TACTICS
    ORGANIZED CRIME WOULDN'T EVEN TRY IN OUR USA GOVETNMENT.

    The oath of office and what it means

    By Jeff Neal @JeffNealHR

    October 24, 2019 9:58 am

    7 min read

          

    This column was originally published on Jeff Neal’s blog, ChiefHRO.com, and was republished here with permission from the author.

    Federal employees, Representatives, Senators, judges, political appointees, the President and Vice President of the United States take an oath of office. So what does taking an oath mean? Why even do it?

    The reason is simple – public servants are just that – servants of the people. After much debate about an Oath, the framers of the U. S. Constitution included the requirement to take an Oath of Office in the Constitution itself. Article VI of the Constitution says, “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.” The Constitution does not prescribe the actual text of the Article VI oaths. For federal civil service employees, the oath is set forth by law in 5 U.S. Code § 3331, which reads as follows:

    “An individual, except the President, elected or appointed to an office of honor or profit in the civil service or uniformed services, shall take the following oath: “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.””

            Insight by OptumServe: Health IT practitioners provide on digital medical delivery in the military domain in this exclusive executive briefing.

    The President is also required by the Constitution to take an Oath of Office. Article 2, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution prescribes the Oath. It says, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

    The Oaths are relatively straightforward, but what do they mean? I see the oath as having 3 important aspects. First, the employee swears to support and defend the Constitution against enemies. Second, they swear allegiance to the Constitution. Finally, the employee promises to do their job well.

    One thing that federal workers often hear is a career supervisor or political appointee talking about loyalty to the agency or the boss. One purpose of the Oath of Office is to remind federal workers that they do not swear allegiance to a supervisor, an agency, a political appointee, or even to the President. The oath is to support and defend the U.S. Constitution and faithfully execute your duties. The intent is to protect the public from a government that might fall victim to political whims and to provide a North Star – the Constitution – as a source of direction. Other laws have been enacted that support that view. For example, in 1939, Congress passed and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Hatch Act. We call it that today, but the actual name of the law is “An Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities.”

    The Oath does not remove ambiguity and it is not always easy for an employee to know what to do. Here are a few examples:

    Lawful orders. Let’s say someone in authority gives a federal worker a lawful order that s/he does not agree with. That disagreement might be for ethical reasons, differences in policy direction, or other reasons. Federal employees are required to follow lawful orders, even if they disagree with them.

    Unlawful orders. 5 USC 2302(b) (9)(D) gives employees the right to refuse with respect to unlawful orders. Refusing an unlawful order is not easy. The employee may face significant pressure to carry out an order that s/he knows is unlawful. Most employees never have the experience of being given an unlawful order. In the few cases it has happened to me, an explanation to my boss that what I was asked to do was illegal was sufficient and the matter was dropped. If it had not been enough, my only acceptable course would be to refuse to carry out the order. Doing something illegal because you are “just following orders” is not a viable defense.

    Regulatory violations. What happens when an order violates a regulation or rule, but is not technically illegal? A 2015 Merit Systems Protection Board decision directly answered that question. MSPB outlined the issues in the case, writing “Specifically, the appellant asserted that the agency violated 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b) (9)(D), which protects employees from retaliation “for refusing to obey an order that would require the individual to violate a law.” 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b) (9)(D). He alleged that the agency improperly stripped him of particular job duties and gave him a subpar performance rating for disobeying an order that would have required that he violate (1) a Federal Acquisition Regulation that limits the authority of a contracting officer’s representative (COR), and (2) “PA296: How to be a COR,” the agency’s training course for COR certification, which further clarifies the limitations to this authority.” MSPB’s final decision said “…we hold that the right-to-disobey provision at section 2302(b) (9)(D) extends only to orders that would require the individual to take an action barred by statute. Because the appellant in this case contends that he disobeyed an order that would have required him to violate an agency rule or regulation, his claim falls outside of the scope of section 2302(b) (9)(D).” That means a manager could discipline or even remove an employee for failing to carry out an order that violates a regulation but not a law.

    Other situations. The oath of office and most case law do not grant any protection for deciding that an order is a bad idea, bad policy, or morally wrong. In fact, the oath does not grant any protection from anything. It is an oath of allegiance and a promise to do good work. Employees who believe they are being ordered to act in a manner inconsistent with their oath of office may pursue other options, such as whistleblower complaints, contacting their Senators or Representatives or their organization’s Inspector General, or any other avenue provided by law or regulation. Disobeying direct orders is generally not one of the available options. That means an employee who wants to argue that s/he is adhering to the oath of office by disobeying orders has a very tough hill to climb. There is also the option of going to the press, but that can bring its own set of risks. It is up to individual employees to decide how much risk they are willing to assume.

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