The news outlets are buzzing with criticism of Chief Justice John Roberts for flubbing Obama’s Oath of Office — but the critiques seem to be all about him nervously reversing a few words. These critiques miss the issue.
After he painfully, and tortuously, slogged his way through the Oath of Office, Roberts appeared to add his own little bit to it as he asked the President, “So help you God?”
Article II, Section I of the US Constitution reads, in pertinent part (with “he” referring to the President-elect):
Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:
“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.”
The words “so help you God,” are not in the Oath. However, since Chester A. Arthur, most (if not all) Presidents-elect have thrown in this little garnish. I previously opined that Mr. Obama could, if he wanted to, throw in a little extra props to his personal deity. In fact, if Obama wanted to end the oath with “The Snozzberries taste like Snozzberries,” he would have had every right to do so.
On the other hand, upon the completion of the Oath as it appears in Article II, Section I, Roberts next line should have been to either shut up or say “congratulations, Mr. President,” — not to ask Obama, “so help you God?”
Funny enough, Obama re-took the Oath of Office due to the fact that the word “faithfully” got moved around a bit, and thus there was some question as to whether Obama actually took the Constitutionally mandated Oath. While most agree that this was unnecessary, it certainly couldn’t hurt given that there are still tinfoil-hat wearing Palinites out there who think that Obama can’t be president because he was born in Hawaii.