Chief Justices Make Mistakes, Too!
Barak Obama’s Inauguration, 2009
Anyone who has spoken in public has likely felt worried that they might slip up, forget a part of their speech, or mispronounce a word.
Evidently, even chief justices are not immune from that pressure. At President Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, Chief Justice John Roberts accidentally transposed two words in the oath. Roberts prompted the president to repeat “that I will execute the Office of President of the United States faithfully,” although the language in the Constitution explicitly requires the President to say, “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States …”
Although the error was minor, concerns immediately arose that perhaps President Obama’s oath would be invalidated. To rectify the problem, Roberts visited the White House the following day to repeat the ceremony. Thankfully, both the Chief Justice and President were more silver-tongued in their delivery that day, and the oath was successfully administered.
To avoid any constitutional problems, Chief Justice John Roberts administers the oath of office a second time to Barack Obama in the Map Room of the White House on Wednesday, January 21, 2009. Photo: Pete Souza, White House