Saturday, June 7, 2014

US Ambassador Swears Oath on an E-reader

6/4/2014 - National Constitution Center – Constitution Daily 
When ‘swearing’ in public is OK, and your constitutional duty, too by
Here’s a taste:
A government official recently took her oath of office on an [e-reader device, possibly] an Amazon Kindle, leading us to examine the rather unique history of public swearing-in ceremonies as part of one’s constitutional duty.

Continue reading here.

For Why this U.S. ambassador was sworn in on a Kindle continue here ,

For a Washington Post take on the story continue here

If you.d like to see who all had a hand on the e-reader continue here.


Ray Soller said...

NCC Blogger Scott Bomboy should take note.

"John Quincy Adams did use a law book containing the Constitution” at his inaugural ceremony, but he did not swear his oath by placing his hand on top of the law book. He did read the presidential oath from the "volume of laws" (It's really difficult to read the text if your hand is resting on top of it.)

A March 4, 1825 diary entry by John Q. Adams says "I pronounced from a Volume of the Laws held up to me by John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States, the Oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and to the best of my ability, to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

The March 12, 1825 Washington National Intelligencer reported: "The President-elect [John Q. Adams] then descended from the chair and, placing himself on the right hand of the judges' table, received from the Chief Justice [John Marshall] a volume of the laws of the United States, from which he read, in a loud and clear voice, the oath of office."

Tom Van Dyke said...

I had also heard that JQ Adams "swore on the Constitution." Thx for the clarification, Ray.

I found this bit even more interesting:

But the debate over swearing-in ceremonies is as old as the Constitution itself. The Founding Fathers openly argued about loyalty oaths for government officials during Philadelphia’s Constitutional Convention in 1787.

Roger Sherman argued that oaths required by state governments were adequate. The influential James Wilson didn’t believe oaths were needed to show support for any government. But the supporters of James Madison’s Virginia Plan won out, gaining support of an oath taken by federal and state officials to support a national Constitution.

So Article VI, Section 1, states that, “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

The actual oath’s language was left for Congress to decide.

Conceptually, an oath WAS put in. I'm not up on the actual details of what Roger Sherman [an orthodox Christian], James Wilson [not on record as "orthodox"] or James Madison's "Virginia plan" actually argued, and since you're our resident expert on this subject, perhaps we could prevail upon you for an explication.

As for Ambassador Suzi LaVine swearing on an electronic simulacrum of the women's suffrage amendment, that's a little too pointedly ideological for me, and made a joke of the proceedings. YMMV, but I'd rather she'd not have bothered.

Ray Soller said...

From what I can gather from the internet, Constitution Daily blogger, Scott Bomboy, used information taken from John. R. Vile’s book, The Constitutional Convention: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of America’s Founding, Vol. 1, Ch. 6 – Oaths of Office, pgs. 539 – 41; President, Inauguration, pgs. 603 – 4; President, Oath of Office, pg. 605; and Religious Tests, Prohibition, pgs. 669 – 70.

The first bill brought up for consideration by the First Congressional Congress (dominated by federalist supporters among which were many delegates to the Constitutional Convention) included an oath for all federal personnel, except for the president, The prescribed oath used a very brief and simplistic form:
“I, A.B. do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of the United States.”

According to the Congressional Record, this oath had already been decided upon by the time GW took his presidential oath on April 30, 17889. Minor details were still ironed out when Congress reconvened, and the bill was signed a month later by GW on June 1, 1789.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Thx, Ray!

Ray Soller said...

Here's another related article from the New Yorker magazine of Jone 20, 2014,
A Brief History of Oaths and Books, by Hannah Rosefeld