Chief Justice Roberts to get another go at oath
January 4th, 2013
09:35 AM ET
1 year ago

Chief Justice Roberts to get another go at oath

Washington (CNN) – His appearance in the 2009 inauguration is remembered mostly for the awkward moment he bungled the words to the presidential oath of office.

But on Friday, President Barack Obama announced he was giving Chief Justice John Roberts another chance – two in fact – to administer the oath at the president's second inauguration in mid-January.

"I will be honored to again stand on the Inaugural platform and take part in this important American tradition," Obama said in a statement distributed by the committee planning the upcoming event. "I look forward to having Chief Justice John Roberts administer my oath of office as we gather to celebrate not just a president or vice president, but the strength and determination of the American people."

While the chief justice in almost always the person swearing in the president, it isn't a legally mandated post. The president can choose who he wants to perform the task. On Friday, the inaugural committee also announced that Vice President Joe Biden had chosen Associate Justice Sonya Sotomayor to administer his oath.

She'll be the fourth woman to preside over a presidential or vice presidential swearing in – the first was federal judge Sarah T. Hughes, who swore in Lyndon B. Johnson aboard Air Force One following John F. Kennedy's assassination. Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg have both sworn in vice presidents.

Roberts, who was nominated to the high court in 2005 by Republican George W. Bush, became something of a liberal icon this summer after the Supreme Court upheld the lynchpin of Obama's sweeping health care law. The 5-4 ruling, which came during the heated presidential election, determined the individual insurance mandate was constitutional if viewed as a tax. Roberts himself wrote the majority opinion upholding the measure.

Roberts will actually administer the oath twice in 2013. Since the Constitutionally-mandated Inauguration Day of January 20 falls on a Sunday, there will be two swearing-in ceremonies this year. One will take place in private on Sunday, and the public ceremony will take place on Monday.

Roberts delivered the oath twice in 2009 as well. After Roberts flubbed the order of words during the public ceremony, a do-over took place in the White House Map Room the next day to erase any question that Obama was officially the president.

Roberts, apparently working without a copy of the oath handy on the Capitol steps, started out by reciting a six-word phrase, but Obama broke in halfway through and repeated the first three.

That seemed to throw the chief justice off stride, and he proceeded to mix up the order of the words in the next phrase.

The Constitution sets out the language that should be used in the oath: "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."

Roberts moved the word "faithfully" back nine spots, and used "to" instead of "of." That threw the president off base, and he smiled and paused to collect his thoughts, then decided to follow Roberts' lead.

In a congressional luncheon after the public swearing-in, Roberts and Obama exchanged words, and the chief justice appeared to tell the president, "It was my fault."


Filed under: John Roberts • President Obama
soundoff (91 Responses)
  1. Thank God H Can't Run Again

    Wish it were 2016....

    January 4, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  2. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    @Thank God H Can't Run Again – maybe if you click your heels together like "Dorothy in the Wizzard of Oz" it will be 2016 before you know it but until then four more years of the best President in History.

    January 4, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Wish it were 2016....
    -------------------------------------------------
    That and $1.50 will get you a large cup of coffee at a 7-11. Meanwhile sit back and enjoy the priviledge of having one of the BEST American Presidents for the next four years.

    January 4, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  4. Hairball

    Thank God H Can't Run Again, I too am looking forward to President Biden's first term!

    January 4, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  5. Wilson

    "we have a generation of brilliant minds to build on the future and not dwell on the past."
    ---------------------------------
    I'm sorry, but test scores do not support that statement.

    January 4, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  6. Wake up People!

    Too bad, too sad!!! At least he was rightfully elected, unlike a certain Texan that should have NEVER been allowed to inhabit the Oval Office.

    But maybe you can hold your breath until 2016. Why not give it a try.....

    January 4, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  7. Stealy Dan

    Our country is certain to go bankrupt with Obama in place for another four years. We may not even make it four years.

    January 4, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  8. GOP= Greed Over People (Party)

    4 more years.

    January 4, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  9. yolanda

    How nice that he is rushing back from vacation in time for his coronation. I hope that the royal family isn't too cramped on the 747....more taxes on all of those wealthy honkies.

    January 4, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  10. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Don't screw it up like you did the first time Justice Roberts.

    January 4, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "If laws worked, we'd have no crime. If GUN laws and restrictions worked, we'd have no gun crime."

    If reductio ad absurdum worked, we'd have no stupid arguments. YAWN.

    January 4, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    ""we have a generation of brilliant minds to build on the future and not dwell on the past."
    -----------
    I'm sorry, but test scores do not support that statement."

    Dat's why we needz more jeezus in the kurrikulum and more home schoolin' by parentses who dropped out in 3rd grade!

    January 4, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  13. Nietodarwin

    The GOP will be extinct by 2016. Until then, enjoy A GREAT PRESIDENT.

    January 4, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  14. 2020

    Stealy Dan – The country will make it the next 4 years, and the next 400 years, but YOU WON'T

    Thanks goodness that you will won't be around before the next round.

    January 4, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  15. Wilson

    @Sniffit
    ""we have a generation of brilliant minds to build on the future and not dwell on the past."
    ---–
    I'm sorry, but test scores do not support that statement."
    Dat's why we needz more jeezus in the kurrikulum and more home schoolin' by parentses who dropped out in 3rd grade!
    ----------------------------------
    I just wanted to say thank you. Even though you are trying to be sarcastic, you validate every point I make on a daily basis.

    January 4, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  16. CH1108

    @Stealy Dan – you don't have to wait 4 more years. You can leave now! Remember, this is a free country – no one's forcing you to stay!!

    January 4, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  17. Wake up People!

    Congratulations to one of the BEST Presidents this country has ever seen!!

    Yeah, yeah, yeah I know, the sky is falling, the sky is falling........

    Speaking of POTUS's..... Did anyone watch Rock Center last night??

    January 4, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    "I just wanted to say thank you. Even though you are trying to be sarcastic, you validate every point I make on a daily basis."

    No doubt the irony of your own statement escapes you?

    January 4, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  19. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    @Thank God He Can't Run Again

    I bet you'd really be pissed off if he pulled a Bloomberg and was able to run for a third term.

    January 4, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Wilson wrote:

    "we have a generation of brilliant minds to build on the future and not dwell on the past."

    I'm sorry, but test scores do not support that statement.
    ---------------------
    You must be looking your red state test scores. Kids around the NYC area are national chess champions, Intel science fair winners, etc.

    January 4, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    :"""we have a generation of brilliant minds to build on the future and not dwell on the past."
    -–
    I'm sorry, but test scores do not support that statement."
    Dat's why we needz more jeezus in the kurrikulum and more home schoolin' by parentses who dropped out in 3rd grade!
    ------------
    I just wanted to say thank you. Even though you are trying to be sarcastic, you validate every point I make on a daily basis."

    You made a point?

    January 4, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  22. FOX NEWS: The dung beetle of journalism.

    Roberts could follow in the footsteps of that great GOP orator, and write it on his hand!

    January 4, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  23. WiredweirdinSF

    Excuse me, I said we were paying $7 million for Obamas Hawaiian vacation, according to the latest press reports, it is
    $20 million. Sure am glad he was able to tax all of those millionaires and give us the Obozocare tax as well as reinstate the FICA tax so he could have us pay for his vacation. Right Obamamama?

    January 4, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  24. The Real Tom Paine

    -Wilson

    @Sniffit
    ""we have a generation of brilliant minds to build on the future and not dwell on the past."
    -–
    I'm sorry, but test scores do not support that statement."
    Dat's why we needz more jeezus in the kurrikulum and more home schoolin' by parentses who dropped out in 3rd grade!
    ------------
    I just wanted to say thank you. Even though you are trying to be sarcastic, you validate every point I make on a daily basis.
    *******************
    Actually, no, thank you. You validate our viewpoint by actually being serious when you blurt out your poorly-conceived rants every day. I know you are exercising your rights to free speech, but the concept of responsibility was thrown off the Rightie Express when Objectivism shoved its way to the head of the line. You exhibit that every day on here.

    January 4, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  25. The Real Tom Paine

    -WiredweirdinSF

    Excuse me, I said we were paying $7 million for Obamas Hawaiian vacation, according to the latest press reports, it is
    $20 million. Sure am glad he was able to tax all of those millionaires and give us the Obozocare tax as well as reinstate the FICA tax so he could have us pay for his vacation. Right Obamamama?
    ***********************************************
    How much did we end up paying for the months that the Crawford Idiot spent hacking away at brush, while we had 2 unfunded wars, and unfunded mandate for Medicare, etc.....Give it up, junior. Obama has spent less time on vacation than almost any president in living memory.

    January 4, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
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