Chief Justice Roberts to get another go at oath
January 4th, 2013
09:35 AM ET
10 years 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. N. S.

    Obama was, and will be,a great President.

    Despite the Republican obstruction, the economy is making some headway.
    The story is clearly summed up by coservative Republican opposition to "Sandy" help.

    It is more important to them to protect the tax breaks of the super-rich, than to serve and assist US citizens, and the rest of us have to make up for the super rich tax breaks. Of course, we don't make the "campaign contributions" or create Republican super-PACS !!
    What happened to te party of Lincoln, Teddy R. Taft, and Eisenhower?

    January 4, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  2. Jewels

    WiredWeirdinSF - See, you are part of the problem. Firstly, they pay for there own food in the WH and expenses for when they do "personal travel". Do people like you recognize that he is never on vacation when president? Do you have any comprehension as to what responsibility rides on their shoulders - on a continuous basis? I find it most amusing when people like you throw jabs because because, imagine yourself having the responsibilities he does - and the regular responsibility, stress, etc. that comes along with it. Why not try working on yourself rather than being petty....

    January 4, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  3. The Real Tom Paine

    I guess the righties are still struggling with the math of reality: you can't get things without paying for them. They all want the best schools, the safest communities, the best roads, etc, but asking a Conservative to pay for any of it is like asking them to stop breathing. Given the lack of creativity and empathy they have demonstrated over the decades, I would say they stopped breathing on purpose to get attention ( the lack of oxygen explains a lot from them). They are nothing more than spoiled children, who demand everything and give nothing because "...its an attack on their freedom." Asking a millionaire to pay more in taxes does not wipe them out: they are still rich. The righties have had decades to proves if their ideas work, and they don't. Time to pay up for the mistake of giving them responsibility ( again).

    January 4, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  4. Larry in Houston

    @ Plain & Simple & Wake Up ppl – please ignore those who don't know what they are saying, nor what they are talking about – LOL – I guess they need a little more "civics 101" or a good history class. I might live in a red state -but Mr. Perry & Company have their hands out for anything they can get from the Feds, believe me. IF I was at the age where I would have to bring up a child, or kids now days, I wouldn't educate them in Texas, believe me. Perry is proud of the fact that we're 49th or 50th – I would move back to the Northeast & educate MY kids – even if I have to shovel snow 4 or 5 months a yr.

    January 4, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    FOX NEWS: The dung beetle of journalism.

    Roberts could follow in the footsteps of that great GOP orator, and write it on his hand!
    "Great GOP orator"!!!!!!!! Bwahahahahahahahahaha!!
    One of the BEST Sarah Palin slams I've heard!
    Thanks for the much needed laugh!!

    January 4, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    How nice that he is rushing back from vacation in time for his coronation.
    Don't forget to go to kisshisas$.com to make your contribution and be a part of history (his story).

    January 4, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  7. Gurgyl

    @wiredweirdinSF–didn't we spend billions in Craford? Are we not broke with that idiot??? While Bin Laden in Pakistan–didn't we pour bombs on dirty barren no-good mountains??? Rule is rule rule for all. I give still time for you to change tune and colors–to welcome to Democratic party!!!

    January 4, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The Real Tom Paine


    ""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
    Tom Paine I've got two words for you: ON FIRE!!!!!!
    You and my boy Sniffit are not to be trifled with.
    @ Wilson:
    Babe.....back off a little bit I don't want you to get hurt (wink!).

    January 4, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  9. Woman In California


    For over a year WiredweirdinSF could only repeat the same lines of calling the president a union toady, etc., at least (through "ObamaCare" and the use of therapy), he has learned to say other stupid things. Poor idiot.

    January 4, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    @wiredweirdinSF – Bush spent his taxpayer paid vacations at Camp David. He even had a name for them. He called them "working vacations".

    January 4, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  11. cost-cutting....

    If a President gets a second term...then why not do some stopping another big hooplaa...and let Obama take the oath of office in the White House and get away with all the expenes paid for by the Taxpayers....!

    January 4, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  12. Woman In California

    @ Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Don't forget to go to kisshisas$.com to make your contribution and be a part of history (his story).

    January 4, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  13. Ryc L

    Any reason that we, the taxpayers, have to pay millions upon millions of dollars to inagurate someone that's still in office? It is a huge cost at a time we cannot afford. If this was a new President I could understand it... but the guys already in office! Government waste!

    January 4, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "Chief Justice Roberts to get another go at oath"

    His own?

    Might do him some good.

    January 4, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "If the Democrats complete the marxist transformation of America, it can and will be a LOT WORSE. There won't be any "bacon" to take home! If you want a perfect example of the utopia they would bring about, look at North Korea. What they want is a ruling elite, and the rest of us as peasants."

    It's like sitting in Psych 101 watching a video illustration of projection....or maybe just the Twilight Zone. Yuo guys need serious help.

    Luckily...for just $0.60 a day, you too can help a Teatroll afford a mirror....

    January 4, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    After reading some of these comments this has become the blog for republican bottom feeders. What a pathetic group of miserable hateful republican bottom feeders you are. Elected republicans don't care about you bottom feeders and you are a joke to them. Try and get it through your thick skulls rich republicans loathe all of you republican bottom feeders.

    January 4, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
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