As a retired federal employee, I took the following oath as required upon accepting federal service: “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.”
The intent is to reinforce that federal servants do not swear allegiance to a supervisor, an agency, a political appointee, or even to the president. The oath is in support and defense of the U.S. Constitution and to faithfully execute one’s duties. The intent is to protect the public from a government that might fall victim to political whims.
Not just federal employees, but members of Congress, judges, political appointees and the president and vice president of the United States all take an oath of office. 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 states, “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.”
For federal employees, this oath is a lifelong commitment and does not expire upon retirement. Many of the people who entered the Capitol unlawfully that day were former government and military members who took the same Oath of Office described above. And without the brave actions of some government employees, our country may look very different today.