On Wednesday, November 26, 2014, in addition to my practice in MD, DC, and VA, I had the honor of being sworn in to the Kentucky bar by Justice Mary C. Noble. At the swearing in, I learned that the Kentucky oath contains references to “dueling”:
“. . .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 a second in carrying a challenge, nor aided or assisted any person thus offending. . . ”
Judge Noble advised me that the references to dueling might seem curious and at times, elicited laughter from those being sworn in, but that there was history behind the reference, including that Henry Clay, one of Kentucky’s statesman, fought in two duels and that there are records of ~40 public duels. The 1850 Constitution sought to stop the dueling and thus, required that every elected official and member of the Bar take an oath that he had not fought in a duel, issued a challenge, or served as a second in a duel.
A bill was introduced in legislature in 2010 seeking a constitutional amendment to eliminate the “dueling” portion of the oath that lawyers take. The bill failed so the lawyers’ oath remains as is since it has been since around 1850.
The take-away: adherence to the Rule of Law and settling disputes in the courtroom.