The Kentucky Duel

This is an absolutely true story. According to the Section 228 of Constitution of the State of Kentucky, which has not been amended since 1891:

"Members of the General Assembly and all officers, before they enter upon the execution of the duties of their respective offices, and all members of the bar, before they enter upon the practice of their profession, shall take the following oath or affirmation:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this Commonwealth, and be faithful and true to the Commonwealth of Kentucky so long as I continue a citizen thereof, and that I will faithfully execute, to the best of my ability, the office of ____ according to law; and I do further solemnly swear (or affirm) that since the adoption of the present Constitution, I, being a citizen of this State, have not fought a duel with deadly weapons within this State nor out of it, nor have I sent or accepted a challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons, nor have I acted as second in carrying a challenge, nor aided or assisted any person thus offending, so help me God."

The Kentucky Secretary of State spends more than 1,800 words on his web site defending the need of the Section as necessary to prohibit duelling.

That doesn't sit well with State Rep. Darryl Owens (D-Louisville), who has proposed an Amendment to the Constitution to delete the duelling clause.

Owens says that when people take the oath of office, it's a solemn occasion -- but when they get to the part about duelling, the audience always laughs, marring the seriousness of the event. "I think that it is time we jump into the 21st century," Owens says, "and delete this archaic language so the oath of office can be administered in a serious and respectful manner."

One thing that most people miss when they see this is that the Constitution specifically notes that it applies to "all members of the bar" -- which means lawyers.

We respectfully suggest to Rep. Owens that the proper course of action is not to strip the language out of the Constitution for everyone, just lawyers -- and then require them to fight more duels.

Posted September 25, 2009

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