Upholding the Constitution

When someone enters public service…especially the military…part of the oath is to uphold the constitution.

Has anyone ever been convicted on the charge of failing to uphold the constitution?

I should think the trial of Aaron Burr would count. (He was not convicted however.)

The Federal Government adopted a policy of not prosecuting leaders of the so-called Confederacy. Still those leaders who were officers of the United States were certainly liable to charges based upon their actions.

Perhaps you could argue that anyone who was convicted of breaking the law within the scope of their official duties, civilian and/or military, violated their oath.

Sort of, but it isn’t couched in those terms. The “high” in “high crimes and misdemeanors” refers to high persons, or public officials. A high crime is an abuse of the office in violation of the oath taken. Generally the “punishment” is removal from office by impeachment or disbarment or firing or what have you, and then criminal punishment comes under whatever statute applies to the general populace. Federal Judge Walter Nixon was sentenced to prison for lying to a grand jury, a charge that would apply equally to anybody, and was impeached in a seperate trial in the Senate for the violation of his oath that lying to a federal jury consituted. While his case was pending before the Supreme Court he continued to draw his salary as a federal judge. There are possibly some specific criminal charges that relate directly to abuse of office, but I’d have to look them up. I believe they’re somewhat common in the UCMJ, e.g. conduct unbecoming.

On the other hand, the federal judge I used to clerk for made national news when he gave an attorney charged in a criminal case a stiffer sentence than his two co-defendants on the grounds that he had violated his oath to uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States. So there’s that.

I guess this might be a rephrasing of the question in the OP, but surely “violating” that oath couldn’t be considered perjury, could it?

Wouldn’t someone have to be convicted of a “real” crime that is on the books, like treason, bribery, fraud, or something like that?

The treason charge against Burr had nothing to do with violation of any oath of office or performance of official duties. He could have been charged with the same crime even if he had been a private citizen his entire life.

This doesn’t exactly answer the OP, because it doesn’t concern prosecution for violation of an oath to support the Constitution, but during the Civil War era many individuals were barred from office because of such violations. Prohibitions against “oath violators” holding office were included in several Civil War-era statutes and then were enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution:

These prohibitions were sporadically enforced, so the individuals barred from office were sanctioned for violation of an oath to support the Constitution, although not prosecuted.