Mahatma makes a boo-boo

I’m in the process of doing a full write-up of Scott Milne’s news conference this morning. But while I was putting it together, I came across something I couldn’t resist sharing right away.

In his prepared remarks, he called on state lawmakers to vote for Governor in accordance with their “constitutional oath,” which he quoted in the following way:

… in giving my “vote or suffrage touching any matter that concerns the State of Vermont, [I] will do it so as in [my] conscience [I] shall judge will most conduce to the best… as established by the Constitution, without fear or favor of any person.”

Small problem, bucko.

That is the Voter’s Oath, which can be found on Vermont’s voter registration form.

There are two Oaths in the state constitution (Section 56) that officeholders must swear: the Oath of Allegiance and the Oath of Office. They read like this:

The Oath or Affirmation of Allegiance

You do solemnly swear (or affirm) that you will be true and faithful to the State of Vermont and that you will not, directly or indirectly, do any act or thing injurious to the Constitution or Government thereof. (If an affirmation) Under the pains and penalties of perjury.

The Oath or Affirmation of Office

You do solemnly swear (or affirm) that you will faithfully execute the office of ____ for the ____ of ____ and will therein do equal right and justice to all persons, to the best of your judgment and ability, according to law. (If an oath) So help you God. (If an affirmation) Under the pains and penalties of perjury.

If he’d found the right Oaths, Milne could perhaps have made a case that lawmakers should vote against Gov. Shumlin to avoid doing “any act or thing injurious to the Constitution or Government,” but that’s not the argument he made.

It was obvious from his news conference that he’d spent a lot of time researching Vermont history and government. But apparently he didn’t quite spend enough time.

As ever, if anyone has contrary information I will happily correct this post.

 

Addendum. Members of the House and Senate actually take a longer oath than that cited in the constitution. However, (1) it does not contain the language cited by Milne, and (2) it’s part of the Legislative Rules, not the Constitution. So Milne remains wrong. 

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