Get PolitiFact in your inbox.
Supporting the U.S. Constitution and its amendments is probably the most agreed upon tenet in politics today, though politicians commonly accuse one another of trying to undermine the text.
Now, a viral meme is going around social media that says if incoming politicians refuse to sign the oath to uphold the Constitution, "they should not be allowed to serve." It then goes on to claim that "three Muslim congresswomen just refused" to do so.
In just one day, the inflammatory post garnered over 70 comments and has been shared more than 3,000 times.
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The full meme:
"If you refused to sign an oath of office to uphold the U.S. Constitution, as every other holder of that office is required to do, you should not be allowed to serve … Three Muslim congresswomen just refused."
There are two problems with this claim. First, at the start of each new Congress, all members beginning a new term of office are actually required to take an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. So, they can’t refuse.
Second, no members could have refused because the swearing-in ceremony (when the oath is taken) hasn’t happened yet.
In the federal government, in order for an official to take office, he or she must first take the oath of office, which is also known as the swearing-in ceremony.
Article VI of the Constitution "requires all representatives, senators, executive officers, judicial officers, and state legislatures to affirm support for the Constitution," according to the 1789 Oath of Office bill brought forth by the First Congress.
Oaths are taken in all three branches of government, including the president, vice president, Congress members and Supreme Court justices.
The wording has changed throughout the years, but the version used today hasn’t been altered since 1966, and is prescribed in Title 5, Section 3331 of the United States Code.
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."
Today, members of Congress take the oath to uphold the Constitution en-masse in a public, group swearing-in ceremony on the opening day of a new Congress.
The ceremony consists of members raising their right hands and repeating the oath. No religious texts are used (as specified in the Constitution). Some members pose for photos individually following the official swearing-in and hold private ceremonies.
Since the 80th Congress, (1947-49) members have also been required to sign an oath.
The 116th U.S. Congress is set to convene on Jan. 3, 2019, and representatives and senators take their oath during the first day of a new Congress.
Since the swearing-in has yet to take place, no members would have been able to refuse to take or sign the oath of office, as the meme implies.
Looking for one more reason that this claim is a hoax? There will not be three Muslim women serving in Congress in 2019, like the post claimed.
There will be two. Michigan elected Rashida Tlaib, and Minnesota elected Ilhan Omar.
A popular meme says politicians shouldn’t be allowed to serve if they refuse to take an oath of office and that "three Muslim congresswomen refused."
Each new member of Congress, along with the president, vice president and Supreme Court justices, are required to take the oath of office when they are sworn in, as written in the U.S. Constitution.
The 116th Congress will convene after the holiday break, on Jan. 3, 2019, which is when incoming representatives and senators will take their oath – so no member could have refused yet.
This claim is Pants on Fire!
Facebook post, Dec. 18, 2018
House.gov, "Oath of Office," Accessed Dec. 19, 2018
Senate.gov, "Oath of Office," Accessed Dec. 19, 2018
Cornell.edu, Constitutional Articles, Accessed Dec 19, 2018
ThoughtCo, "The Oaths of Office for President, Vice President, Judges and Congress," Accessed Dec. 19, 2018
The Heritage Foundation, "Support and Defend: Understanding the Oath of Office," Jan. 3, 2011
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.