Before they take office, elected officials swear to uphold the U.S. Constitution. But what happens when they are accused of doing the opposite?
As some Republicans in Congress continued to back President Donald Trump’s doomed effort to overturn the election, critics — including President-elect Joe Biden — alleged that they had violated their oaths and instead pledged allegiance to Trump.
The oaths, which rarely attract much attention, have become a common subject in the final days of the Trump presidency, being invoked by members of both parties as they met Wednesday to affirm Biden’s win and a violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
“They also swore on a Bible to uphold the Constitution, and that’s where they really are stepping outside and being in dereliction of duty,” said former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, a Republican who served as EPA administrator during former President George W. Bush’s administration. “They swore to uphold the Constitution against all our enemies, foreign or domestic, and they are ignoring that.”
The oaths vary slightly between government bodies, but elected officials generally swear to defend the Constitution. The Senate website says its current oath is linked to the 1860s, “drafted by Civil War-era