Chief Justice Roberts to get another go at oath
January 4th, 2013
09:35 AM ET
9 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. plain&simple

    @ Wake up people....thank you,well said!

    January 4, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  2. Joi Gibson

    Well I am looking forward to President Obama being sworn in for his second term as president.

    January 4, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ empresstrudy:

    Hate doesn't wear well. Stop it.
    Meanwhile please get back to us when you can find ANY other President who filled the Mall with 2 MILLION people (my family and I were amongst them) standing since 4:30am with temperatures in the low teens, patiently, joyfully, waiting for the beautiful daybreak that would bring us one of the most historic moments in U.S.history: the inauguration of our first African-American President.
    A proud day for America.
    God Bless our President Barack Hussein Obama. And may God continue to bless ALL Americans. You included.

    January 4, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  4. Wake up People!

    @Plain &Simple. You're very welcome.

    January 4, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |

    Roberts screwed America when he voted in Obamacare! And he's swearing in the president who pushed it through. This will always be a very disturbing a destructive moment in America's history.

    January 4, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Wake up people!
    Sounds like Guestagain is dong nothing but taking shots in the dark. You don't have to explain yourself to any of these mental midgets babe.
    Consider the source, and then dismiss the comment.

    January 4, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  7. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Why is the Chief Justice ignoring the Constitution along with Congress and MOST DEMOCRATS?"

    Simply put ... it tears you folks apart thinking about it? Oh, and the fact that Barack Obama was born a citizen of the United States of America.

    BTW: Orly will be soooo proud of you. Got you wrapped around her .... um .... pinky, does she?

    January 4, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  8. GuestAgain

    Private funds – thats good to know as a tax payer, thanks.

    January 4, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  9. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I want President Obama to avail himself of ALL funds that are allocated towards this NATIONAL event: the inauguration of our American President.
    I want Michelle to wear a designer gown, maybe Oscar de la Renta, or someone of that magnitude to the Inauguration Balls. I want them EXPENSIVELY decked to the nines!
    I want them to go back to the White House and do some more redecorating,but this time I want them to use the money that is allocated for that and not come out of their own pocket for ANYTHING.
    New china, yeah, let's order some expensive new china. Heck, other First Ladies have done so.
    Spend whatever the hellis allocated to them for these amenities and festivities because the sad truth is that no matter what they do, what restraint, how dressed-down, no matter what some of you are going to talk crap ANYWAY.

    January 4, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  10. sandra

    I can't wait our wonderful president so proud of him and the first family wow!

    January 4, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    @Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I didn't get a chance to reply to your comment from a few days back. Just to be clear .... I'm talking the big T factor. Your own creativity had me chuckling all day.

    January 4, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  12. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    When people say "Obama is destroying the future of our children and grandchildren and we need to build a better future for them" , that's been said generations before us by those who had no vision of the future. The minds of our youth are far greater than generations ago, they aren't stuck in some kind of time zone of the past, we have a generation of brilliant minds to build on the future and not dwell on the past.

    January 4, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  13. calvin

    Why not take the money and use it toward the economy-Too much emphasis on a inauguaration-really!!!

    January 4, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  14. Wake up People!

    I'm with Dominican Mama. I want to see the POTUS and FLOTUS decked out to the nines!! I am sick of hearing the RWNJ's complain about everything they do, when every other first couple were allowed to do as they please.

    January 4, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    calvin wrote:

    Why not take the money and use it toward the economy-Too much emphasis on a inauguaration-really!!!
    Do you even have a clue as to what it is that you're talking about? They're trying pay for the inauguration through private donations. So what exactly is the point you're tyring to make?

    No one on the right complained about the multi-billion one day holiday that Republicans gave all federal employees for Reagan's memorial services. That's because deficits didn't matter to Republicans in those days.

    January 4, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  16. Wake up People!

    Why didn't Mitt Robmey's supporters put the money they wasted attempting to buy the election, toward the economy??

    Just wondering where all of these complainers were during shrubs two inaugurations??

    Oh yeah I forgot, the same rules don't apply to the Obama's.

    January 4, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  17. Marie MD

    @stuffit, how about you stuff it! Your simpleton from TX spent more time on vacation at that ugly ranch than in the white house.
    Give it a feeakin" rest!!! Your reigns take the whole week when the holiday in on Monday.

    January 4, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  18. plain&simple

    We have a humble president and first lady, along with being gracious! Is this what drives the right wing egomaniacs crazy? Hell yes!!!

    January 4, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  19. Marcus

    And here we go again with the birthers voicing their disdain for a man born in the USA to a woman who was American (of mixed ancestry, not 100% white) and a black guy who never ever tried to obtain the American citizenship and went back home after divorcing his American wife...

    January 4, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  20. Lynda/Minnesota

    I'm curious as to what happen to all that money (millions of dollars) folks spent on Romney's victory tour fund? That inaugural tour of his where they were all going to party like they've never partied before at Camp David?

    January 4, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  21. askdavey

    they could realy tick off the gop and invite 20000 iner city youths to the party........thee racist gop would call in the nat.

    January 4, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    Wilson wrote:

    Hmmm, swearing to defend a document he finds "inconvienent," yet has proven so far to violate that first oath he took whenever he wishes.
    Ah. So that explains why the right wing wants to rewrite the 14th Amendment, and add a handful of new Amendments having to do with everything from gay marriage to immigration to voting rights.

    Meanwhile, which amendments have liberals or Democrats expressed desires to have revised? Has the left proposed any new amendments?

    January 4, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  23. WiredweirdinSF

    Just got my first paycheck stub of the new year, It is hard to believe there are so many stupid people in this country that could re elect this corrupt, lying, inept, incomptent union toady, but as Obama Mama and a lot of them say he smiles nice.

    January 4, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  24. JLO

    "Liberal icon" John Roberts? I am no longer surprised at the garbage written on CNN. Keep on taking Robert's crap, Obama, and keep on smiling at the hate. I no longer care.

    January 4, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC

    WiredweirdinSF wrote:

    ... It is hard to believe there are so many stupid people in this country that could re elect this corrupt, lying, inept, incomptent union toady, ....
    Psst. Your guy lost. Why? Because *the majority* of people realized that he would be far worse than anything Obama could ever possibly do.

    January 4, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
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