Obama Retakes Oath of Office Out of ‘Abundance of Caution’
Posted Jan 21, 2009 8:48 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
Because he got one word out of sequence when taking the oath of office during his inauguration yesterday, President Barack Obama took it again tonight out of an "abundance of caution," his legal counsel says.
Putting to rest a potential issue that has ignited intense interest among readers of ABAJournal.com over the past two days, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. visited the White House tonight and administered the oath to Obama a second time in the Map Room there at 7:35 p.m. ET, reports ABC News in its Political Punch blog.
After donning his robe, Roberts asked Obama if he was ready to take the oath. "I am," Obama replied, "and we're going to do it very slowly."
His second swearing-in was witnessed only by seven people, not counting the president and chief justice, including four pool journalists, the blog post recounts.
"We believe that the oath of office was administered effectively and that the President was sworn in appropriately yesterday," White House Counsel Greg Craig said in a written statement. "But the oath appears in the Constitution itself. And out of an abundance of caution, because there was one word out of sequence, Chief Justice Roberts administered the oath a second time."
When he took the oath the first time, Obama misplaced the word "faithfully," apparently repeating an error by Roberts, as discussed in an earlier ABAJournal.com post.
While Obama and Roberts seemed to take the error in stride, the imprecision created a sensation on the Internet and sparked discussion about whether Obama was indeed the sworn president.
Of more than 400 readers who answered an ABAJournal.com poll today, 54 percent said Obama should retake the oath to follow the letter of the Constitution or to quiet conspiracy theorists.
This isn't the first time a president opted for an oath do-over. Calvin Coolidge and Chester Arthur also opted to retake their oaths of office.