Consummate dilettantism!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Was Right: Biden Is President

You heard it here first, folks [SFGate]:
Several constitutional lawyers said President Obama should, just to be safe, retake the oath of office that was flubbed by Chief Justice John Roberts.

The 35-word oath is explicitly prescribed in the Constitution, Article II, Section 1, which begins by saying the president "shall" take the oath "before he enter on the execution of his office."

The oath reads: "I do solemnly swear 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."

In giving the oath, Roberts misplaced the word "faithfully," at which point Obama paused quizzically. Roberts then corrected himself, but Obama repeated the words as Roberts initially said them.

A do-over "would take him 30 seconds, he can do it in private, it's not a big deal, and he ought to do it just to be safe," said Boston University constitutional scholar and Supreme Court watcher Jack Beermann. "It's an open question whether he's president until he takes the proper oath."

The courts would probably never hear a challenge, and some might argue that Obama automatically took office at noon because that's when President Bush left the office. But because the procedure is so explicitly prescribed in the Constitution, Beermann said if he were Obama's lawyer, he would recommend retaking it, just as two previous presidents, Calvin Coolidge and Chester Arthur, did under similar circumstances.

"The Constitution says what he's supposed to say," Beermann said. "... It's kind of surprising the chief justice couldn't get it right."

The only reason not to retake the oath would be to prevent further embarrassment of the chief justice, he said. "It would seem appropriate for the president of the United States to take the oath specified in the Constitution," he said. "It's the same oath all 43 of his predecessors took. He ought to take it."

Charles Cooper, head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel under President Ronald Reagan, said that the oath is mandatory, that an incorrect recitation should be fixed and that he would be surprised if the oath hadn't already been re-administered.

Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University, was hosting an inauguration party at his home in McLean, Va., Tuesday and did a mock swearing-in of 35 children. When Roberts erred, one child shouted: "That's not right!"

"He should probably go ahead and take the oath again," Turley said. "If he doesn't, there are going to be people who for the next four years are going to argue that he didn't meet the constitutional standard. I don't think it's necessary, and it's not a constitutional crisis. This is the chief justice's version of a wardrobe malfunction."
They laughed at Galileo and Copernicus, and now at me! Hate to say I told you so, but, well, i don't: I told you so!

UPDATE: Obama's taken the oath a second time!
Chief Justice John Roberts has administered the presidential oath of office to Barack Obama for a second time just to be on the safe side.

The unusual step came after Roberts flubbed the oath a bit on Tuesday, causing Obama to repeat the wording differently than as prescribed in the Constitution.

White House counsel Greg Craig said Obama took the oath from Roberts again out of an "abundance of caution."

The chief justice and the president handled the matter privately in the Map Room on Wednesday night.
Obama's probably an avid reader of this blog; Obama or the Supreme Court, that is. Okay, so Obama's definitely president now, but I still hold that Biden was acting president there for a while! What's more important is that Obama didn't have the power to create a National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation. I therefore refuse to celebrate it on the grounds that it's an unconstitutionally created holiday.

1 comment:

  1. oh good, because i was worried. slash excited. i was counting on some riots so i could get some free stuff. i'm so disappointed now