It was Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s version of a wardrobe malfunction. He flubbed the 35-word oath and learned why his predecessor Chief Justice William Rehnquist always read the oath for accuracy. Now, there is a debate as to whether the oath is constitutionally valid and the possibility that Obama should take the oath again out of an abundance of caution. Today I did this segment on NPR’s Talk of the Nation. I will also be discussing this tonight on MSNBC Countdown.
The words of the oath are placed in quotations in the Constitution and are therefore to be taken with precision. Roberts was anything but precise. He moved the adverb, which Obama appears to have caught to his credit.
This is the problem of trying to to without notes.
The oath is supposed to read: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will to best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Instead, Roberts said the words: “that I will execute the office of President to the United States faithfully,” putting “faithfully” at the end of the phrase, and substituting the word “to” for “of.”
The easiest solution is to simply retake the oath, which was done by Calvin Coolidge and Chester Arthur. For an article discussing the issue, click here.
For the clip, click here.