Controversial Organization Admonishes Soldiers and Peace Officers to Defend the Constitutionby Stephen Littau
Every soldier and every police officer swears an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” but as a practical matter, what does this mean? What happens if the CO issues an order that violates the Constitution; is soldier or peace officer still required to carry the order out? What if the order in question comes from the President of the United States?
Stewart Rhodes, the founder of an organization established in 2009 called Oath Keepers, says that not only do soldiers and peace officers have a right to refuse to carry out an order that violates the U.S. Constitution but a sworn duty to disobey the order. Rhodes, graduate of Yale Law School, veteran, former firearms instructor, and former staffer for Congressman Ron Paul’s D.C. office, started Oath Keepers in response to what he perceived as an erosion of civil liberties that has escalated since 9/11.
Oath Keepers’ critics (particularly on the Left) believe the organization to be a Right wing “extremist” organization full of Birthers, Truthers, militia members, hate groups, and various other conspiracy theorists. In this article in Reason, Rhodes clears the air. Also, found in the organization’s bylaws:
(a) No person who advocates, or has been or is a member, or associated with, any organization, formal or informal, that advocates the overthrow of the government of the United States or the violation of the Constitution thereof, shall be entitled to be a member or associate member.
(b) No person who advocates, or has been or is a member, or associated with, any organization, formal or informal, that advocates discrimination, violence, or hatred toward any person based upon their race, nationality, creed, or color, shall be entitled to be a member or associate member.
So what specifically makes Oath Keepers so controversial? My guess would be their list of 10 “Orders We Will Not Obey”:
1. We will NOT obey orders to disarm the American people.
2. We will NOT obey orders to conduct warrantless searches of the American people
3. We will NOT obey orders to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to military tribunal.
4. We will NOT obey orders to impose martial law or a “state of emergency” on a state.
5. We will NOT obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty.
6. We will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.
7. We will NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext.
8. We will NOT obey orders to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on U.S. soil against the American people to “keep the peace” or to “maintain control.”
9. We will NOT obey any orders to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies.
10.We will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.
Imagine how much freer our country would become if everyone in law enforcement and in the military adopted this creed and took their oaths seriously?