The Constitutional Priority

Often we hear from the President that his first duty is to protect and defend our country from those who would harm us. We hear from not only the President and other Republicans, but even Chris Dodd that civil liberties must be given up in face of increased security to help prevent any further terrorist attacks. But is this really so? Let’s check the oath of office for the President of the United States:

“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.”

Nowhere does it say that the President may put security about civil liberties. It says that his duties are to execute the office of President and to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. Security and defending the Constitution are on par with each other; no one is more important than the other. That is to say, security must be done within a constitutional framework — at all costs. No matter the situation, the Constitution must be protected.

One must also notice how the oath was written. Since the two duties of the President are co-equal, the founders are implying that in carrying out the oath one duty would never impact the other. No trade-off between liberties and security is needed, because the two are not orthogonal; the fallacy of the false dilemma rears its ugly head again. Basically, if you can’t do security without contravening the Constitution, you’re not doing it right. You can always protect the Constitution without sacrificing security, just as you can protect the country without sacrificing its foundations.

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1 comment so far

  1. Specter on

    Well-put. It seems many (on the right) think the president’s job is to ‘protect us at all costs’ when in reality the executive branch is the office that is supposed to enforce the law of the land, i.e. the Constitution.

    Good luck with your blog here. Great start so far.


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