Politics

Chief Justice Roberts Messes Up Presidential Oath Of Office

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Chief Justice Roberts made a pretty big mistake when he was administering the oath to Barack Obama today:

WASHINGTON – Chief Justice John Roberts swore in President-elect Barack Obama as president of the United States on Tuesday with a slight stumble over the wording of the oath of office in the first of what could be many important interactions between two men who rose to their positions of power quickly and who have some background similarities, but whose politics differ.

Separated by a Bible used by Abraham Lincoln at his first inaugural, Roberts asked Obama: “Are you prepared to take the oath, Senator?”

The former Illinois senator indicated he was, and Roberts started reciting — and Obama repeating — the 35-word oath that is prescribed by the Constitution.

But at one point, Obama paused abruptly after Roberts reversed several words in the oath.

The oath includes the phrase “that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States” but Roberts didn’t say “faithfully” until after saying “president of the United States.”

Obama apparently realized that something was out of order.

With Obama not reciting, Roberts then repeated the phrase correctly, the brief awkward moment ended and Obama was back on track.

He was then the first to congratulate Obama on his new job.

Here’s a transcript of the whole awkward affair:

ROBERTS: Are you prepared to take the oath, Senator?
OBAMA: I am.
ROBERTS: I, Barack Hussein Obama…
OBAMA: I, Barack…
ROBERTS: … do solemnly swear…
OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear…
ROBERTS: … that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully…
OBAMA: … that I will execute…
ROBERTS: … faithfully the office of president of the United States…
OBAMA: … the office of president of the United States faithfully…
ROBERTS: … and will to the best of my ability…
OBAMA: … and will to the best of my ability…
ROBERTS: … preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
OBAMA: … preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
ROBERTS: So help you God?
OBAMA: So help me God.
ROBERTS: Congratulations, Mr. President.

And, here’s the video:

From the transcript and the video make it clear that it was Roberts who made the mistake first. When I watched it live, you could see Obama pause for a second after he says “that I will execute” and look at Roberts as if to give him a chance to fix the error, which only served to confuse things even more.

Or perhaps Obama tripped Roberts up at the very beginning by anticipating a pause that previous Chief Justices have taken, but which never came.

In either case, I would’ve thought they might have at least talked about how the oath was going to do down before hand, wouldn’t you ?

Cross-Posted at Below The Beltway