- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Back in 1999, when Basil Dalack was first elected to the Village Council of Tequesta, Fla., he had no problem swearing an oath to “support, protect and defend” the state and federal governments. But did Mr. Dalack, who was recently reelected to the Village Council, really support every program, policy or official of those governments in his heart of hearts? Probably not and for that he should have been removed from office.

If that sounds a bit harsh, well, blame Mr. Dalack. This time around the councilman-elect is refusing to swear the same oath, because he doesn’t “support” the federal government in every thing it does. Especially over the Iraq war. In fact, the antiwar Mr. Dalack is on something of a crusade over the “support” part. “I am interested in awakening the American conscience,” he says.

We wish him well in his endeavor, but did he really have to file a lawsuit in federal court over it? Mr. Dalack now thinks that the oath violates the Constitution by placing a “prior restraint” on his right to free speech. He says he will not take the oath as long as the word “support” remains or — presumably — the United States pulls out of Iraq. The curious part is that Mr. Dalack said nothing about his awakening campaign to the good citizens of Tequesta before they voted him into office. As the TCPalm reported, Tequesta is comprised of 2,131 registered Republicans and 1,226 Democrats. The oath’s unconstitutionality just sort of struck him when he finally got around to reading it and thought about what it meant.

Now all that’s needed to further this absurdity is a sympathetic judge. Enter U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks, who held an emergency hearing yesterday in the case. No one quite knows why the judge acted so quickly or didn’t just throw the case out. But considering Judge Middlebrooks’ history, it doesn’t look good. The Clinton-appointed judge, who has donated to Democrats, made national headlines in 2000 when he wrote the opinion denying the Bush campaign’s request for an injunction to halt hand counting of Florida’s disputed ballots.

Which isn’t to say anyone knows for sure how Judge Middlebrooks is going to rule. We’re just lowering our expectations.

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