Oath Flubbed by Chief Justice Roberts: Should Obama Take It Again?

By Admin on January 21, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

As noticed by millions in Washington D.C. and around the world, President Obama's oath of office featured a bit of a stumble yesterday. Chief Justice John Roberts misstated the oath, throwing off Obama, who completed the oath slightly differently than it is stated in the constitution. Now many have asked: should Obama retake the oath of office?

Article II of the Constitution states: "Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: 'I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.'"

Instead of "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States," Justice Roberts prompted Obama to swear that he would "execute the office of President to the United States faithfully," misplacing "faithfully" and using an errant preposition. Obama correctly said "President of the United States," but repeated Roberts' mistaken placement of "faithfully."

Though it seems a matter of minor misplaced words which basically say the same thing, numerous legal experts are suggesting that Obama take the oath of office again just to be safe. As noted by George Washington University Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley, the Constitution puts the Presidential oath in quotations, indicating that exact wording is important.

Retaking the oath could happen quickly and in private. The San Francisco Chronicle notes that both presidents Calvin Coolidge and Chester Arthur retook their oaths in private. As Professor Turley told the Chronicle, Obama should probably retake the oath to take care of what he referred to as "the chief justice's version of a wardrobe malfunction."

According to CBS News, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs has said Obama has no plans to retake the oath.

As noted by the LA Time Opinion LA, Justice Roberts also included an extra bit of oath not present in the constitution, but which presidents have come to volunteer themselves: the "so help me God" part. Presidents typically tack this on at the end. Obama included it after prompting by Roberts, who asked "so help you God?"

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