Monday, September 8, 2014

Volokh: "Should atheists who refuse to say ‘so help me God’ be excluded from the Air Force?"

Check it out here. A taste:
So 10 U.S.C. § 502 expressly says that each person may swear or affirm. Likewise, 1 U.S.C. § 1 expressly says that an oath includes an affirmation. And an affirmation means precisely a pledge without reference to a supreme being. Given this context, it seems to me quite clear that “So help me God” in the statute should be read as an optional component, to be used for the great bulk of people who swear, but should be omitted for those who exercise their expressly statutorily provided option to affirm — because that’s what affirming means (omitting reference to a supreme being).


Tom Van Dyke said...

This one makes no sense. Like the jerks who try to denude the public square of all traces of God or religion, whatever functionary is creating this mess is abusing his position.

As was my position in Hobby Lobby when push comes to shove, it's usually unnecessary.

Further, per Torcaso--which is over 50 years old--the law on this is settled. This BS will not stand.

"Beyond this, the First Amendment more broadly bars the government from excluding atheists from positions because of their atheism, as the Court unanimously held in Torcaso v. Watkins (1961). (For a recent conservative endorsement of that position, see Justice Scalia’s opinion in Employment Division v. Smith (1990), which says, “The government may not compel affirmation of religious belief, see Torcaso v. Watkins.”)

Ray Soller said...

There are other functionaries outside of the Air Force who still assert that SHMG is a obligatory part of a federal oath, such as the National Council on Citizenship.

In a NCOC document entitled History of the Oath of Office (download file:///C:/Users/OWNER/Downloads/cfl471%20(9).pdf) they say:
The taking of oaths is not relegated just to those in government service. Those born in other countries who wish to become U.S. citizens must recite the Oath of Allegiance.
I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

This document also makes this specious claim:
Although the U.S. Constitution does not include the words, “So help me God,” George Washington, upon taking the Oath of Office, added it and every President since has said it.

Ed Darrell said...

Are we assuming that this Supreme Court will completely ignore Torcaso v. Watkins?

This is a settled issue, and the Air Force is wrong.