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

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."

Thirty-seven 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 ARE MEANINGLESS!!

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

  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, No Treason, 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.

January 24, 2009