Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Why the oath for VP is longer.

As I watched the inaguration today I couldn't help to notice that Joe Biden's oath was significantly larger than President Obamas.
Vice President:
I, ____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God

"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."

So i went home and did a little research and figured out why.  The president recites the oath as written in the Constitution of the United States.  However, the constitution does not require the Vice President to take any oath whatsoever.  Over the years the vice presidents have used different oaths and currently use the same oath as Senators, house representatives, and other governmental officials.

My constitutional law teacher (and google) were happy to provide some other little tidbits about todays events.  

It wasn't President Obama's fault for stumbling during the oath.  The Cheif Justice John Roberts actually said it wrong; President Obama who had memorized the oath was justly confused.  Some experts argue that the President must redo the oath to so he could say it correctly.

As young as John Roberts seems he is actually older than President Obama.  He is also the first Chief Justice to swear in a President when the President had voted against the Justice's confirmation.

The Second most senior justice of the Supreme Court is given the honor of swearing in the vice president.  In our case this is Justice Stevens.  Justice Stevens has actually been in the court the longest but by law the Chief Justice is considered the most senior justice.

The constitution sets forth that the President becomes president at noon with or without the oath.  The constitution also mandates that the President must give an oath.  It would be an interesting constitutional law question if the President just refused to take the oath.

Many Presidents (including our current president) end their oath by saying "So help me God" this isn't required by law.

President Obama used the same Bible that Abraham Lincon used to swear in.  (That thing was huge!)  The president isn't required to swear on the bible or even swear ( he can say "I affirm")

President Obama wrongly stated that he was the 44th person to be sworn into this office.  This is technically incorrect, Grover Cleveland was both the 22nd and 24th President.  Accordingly, Obama is the the 43rd person to be sworn into office.

Anyway, the whole thing was very touching.  Regardless of what you think about American Politics, it is truly remarkable that the most powerful country in the world can have such a peaceful transition of power.  

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