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Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, March 30, 1868
Volume 142, Page 2169   View pdf image (33K)
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Legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of
the United Statea and of the several States, shall be bound
by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution."

Considering, then, the restrictions of the Tenth Amend-
ment, before quoted, what authority has Congress to add to
the substance of this oath ; and how it may be done without
a direct infraction of one of the dearest rights of the people-
therein reserved—the right to elect whom they may choose,
possessing the qualifications defined in the Constitution, as
their Representative? To deny the right of any people to
elect a Representative of their own choosing, is practically to-
deny them the right of franchise, or any participation in
framing the policy of their Government. Their election is a
mockery, if a ruling power may direct for whom or for what
class of men their polls shall be cast ; and when they submit
to this, their liberty is destroyed, and they are made slaves.

But beyond all questions of power, we earnestly protest,
and utter a solemn warning against, the dangers precedent
of amplifying the prerequisite qualifications or the oath of
office to conform to the views of the ruling majority, as con-
ceding a power which Congress not only does not, but ought
not possess. Such power would always be capable of the
greatest abuse, and lead necessarily to the most deplorable
practices. The tendency of a test oath on political sentiments
is to perpetuate the ascendency of the party in power ; and
the authority once established, the temptation to use it for
that object becomes too strong for resistance, in times of high
political excitement and rancor. If this Congress may apply,
through the oath of office, a test of present or past political
sentiments, another Congress, controlled by the devotees of
the Grand Army of the Republic, may require that each
member shall swear to having actually served a specified term.
in the army or navy. Or, the tables being turned, and that
great organization vanquished in its struggle for supremacy,
anether Congress may enact an oath that would disqualify
for membership any one having served in the army or navy
of the United States.

Political enthusiasms are often epidemic, and carry the
populace, for the time being, on a single idea. A party
predicated on one idea (as anti-masonry, know-nothingism,
&c., in the past), attaining a majority in Congress, would
seek to perpetuate its ascendency by requiring an oath of ad-
mission to conform to its peculiar tenets.

And so protesting, in the name of the people of Kentucky,
and of their great chart of liberty, the Constitution, the
General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky does
hereby declare:

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Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, March 30, 1868
Volume 142, Page 2169   View pdf image (33K)
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