The Presidential Oath of Office: When Is an Oath Not an Oath?

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The Presidential
Oath of Office was soundly misquoted Tuesday as Barack Obama was
sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. Chief Justice
of the Supreme Court John G. Roberts pronounced the Oath in complete
error, and Mr. Obama recited it back to him, somewhat sheepishly.
They screwed it up so badly that on Wednesday evening they did a
"do-over" in the Map Room of the White House.

In Article
II, Section I of the Constitution, the President's Oath of Office
is written as follows: "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."

words. How hard could this be?

Article VI,
Section 4, states that the other elected officials, such as Representatives,
Senators, the Vice President and Federal judges must swear an oath,
but it does not list a particular oath or affirmation. I guess they
can just make one up.

So, I watched
Tuesday with great amusement as Joseph Biden swore an oath to be
Vice President. But the Oath of Office that he swore was lifted
from the Oath of Office for Military Officers, which is:

"I, Joseph
Biden, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend
the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign
or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;
that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations
or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge
the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help
me God.”

There is no
Oath of Office for Vice President! Only for President!

Why do I bring
this up…other than for the entertainment value it held?

Because it
serves to prove that the Oaths of Office sworn in the Congress,
Senate, by Supreme Court justices, the Vice President and President

Even when the
Presidential Oath of Office is done correctly, think about these

  1. To whom
    is the Oath sworn? Answer: no one specifically.
  2. Does the
    Constitution mandate a spoken or written Oath? Answer: neither.
  3. Does the
    President sign an Oath? Answer: not to my knowledge.
  4. Is there
    a contract between any two parties for specific performance for
    any President? Answer: none
  5. Does the
    President execute an employment contract between himself and any
    other party? Answer: no
  6. Is there
    any person or group of persons who could enforce the Presidential
    Oath? Answer: The Senate. In Article II, Section 4, the President
    shall be removed upon Impeachment and Conviction for Treason,
    Bribery or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors. However, the Senators
    have no stomach for impeachment and will likely never impeach
    and remove another seated President, no matter what he does. Clinton
    and GW Bush were grateful for this lack of Senatorial backbone.
  7. If the Oath
    was spoken on the Capitol steps, and then again in the Map Room,
    then who was it recited to…and does it matter? Answers: no one
    and no.

For additional
information about the Constitution, read Lysander Spooner's book,
, written in 1870.

So, why does
anyone bother with this charade?

Answer: for
appearance's sake. The American people love entertainment, and eschew
knowledge. This theatrical performance makes Americans feel like
their government works, and that their votes count for something.

24, 2009

D. Longcore [send him
] has an insurance claims practice in Atlanta, Georgia.
He is married to “his redhead” Julie, and has three wonderful children,
and three even more wonderful grandchildren.

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