Constitutional Law

Law Profs Advise Obama to Take Oath Again Due to 'Faithfully' Flub


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Updated: Is Barack Obama really president, or did his error in reciting the oath rob him of the office?

Because that question could dog Obama for the next four years, he should take the oath again, law professors told the Washington Post. They believe the error is “insignificant” and Obama really is the president, the story says, but they suggest a do-over couldn’t hurt.

And the president and his legal counsel may well have been listening: Obama took the oath of office a second time at the White House at 7:35 p.m. on Jan. 21, a day after his inauguration, as ABAJournal.com reports in a subsequent blog post.

It wouldn’t be the first time a president took the oath a second time in private because of legal questions, the Washington Post story says. Calvin Coolidge and Chester Arthur also opted for do-overs.

Obama should have said he will “faithfully execute the office of president of the United States” but following Roberts’ lead, he moved “faithfully” to the end of the phrase.

“Out of a super-abundance of caution, perhaps he should do it again,” Yale law professor Akhil Reed Amar told the Washington Post.

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley agreed.

“He should probably go ahead and take the oath again,” Turley told the Post. “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.”

Updated at 7:55 p.m. on Jan. 21 to reflect that Obama did indeed subsequently take the oath of office a second time.

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