Editor's Note: This column was coauthored by Bob Morrison.
President Obama's choice to be Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) was approved by the Senate on a vote of 63-34, with thirteen Republicans voting to confirm him. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) created quite a stir with his 13-hour filibuster against the Brennan nomination. Not until he received written assurances from Attorney General Eric Holder that U.S. citizens would not be targeted for killing by drones on U.S. soil would the doughty Kentuckian stand down. Good for him.
John Brennan then proceeded to take the Oath of Office, as administered by Vice President Joe Biden. Director Brennan then did something no other officer has done, something that occasioned its own measure of controversy. Brennan was sworn in on an original copy of the Constitution. It was a very august occasion, to be sure, but it was also a mysterious one.
For the man who will be America's spymaster, it was an odd move for him to stir up trouble. Our top spy's action was, well, "spooky."
Civil libertarians left and right were quick to point out that the 1787 Constitution did not include a Bill of Rights. Critics were right to be vigilant, especially when our spymaster has been so intimately associated with choosing targets for drone attacks. The Fifth Amendment says "no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law." That guarantee should certainly apply to Americans here at home. Similarly, the Fourth Amendment's safeguards against unreasonable searches and seizures need to be underscored.
But there was little notice of the fact that the First Amendment provides for No Establishment of Religion. This was conspicuously not a part of the Constitution that Brennan chose to swear to uphold.
The Constitution of 1787 did not afford that guarantee, but it did give all Americans protection from religious tests for office. Thus, even without a Bill of Rights, Article VI, Sec. 3 provides that: "...no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
As a result, Brennan's opponents on Capitol Hill scrupulously avoided questioning him about his religion. That was as it should be. We have consistently opposed such religious tests when applied to men and women of our faith.