In the Federal Government, in order for an official to take office, he or she must first take the oath of office; this is also known as a swearing-in ceremony. The official reciting the oath swears an allegiance to uphold the Constitution. The Constitution only specifies an oath of office for the President; however, Article VI of the Constitution states that other officials, including members of Congress, “shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation to support this constitution.”
The following includes oath information for high ranking officials from each of the three branches of Government.
Executive Branch: President and Vice President of the United States
According to the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, a President’s term of office begins at 12:00 p.m. (noon) on January 20th of the year following an election. In order to assume his or her duties, the President-elect must recite the Oath of Office. The Oath is administered by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The President-elect places the left hand on the Bible, raises the right hand, and takes the Oath as directed by the Chief Justice. The Oath, as stated in Article II, Section I, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution, is as follows:
“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 Vice President also takes an oath of office. Until 1933, the Vice President took the oath of office in the Senate; today, both the President and Vice President are inaugurated in the same ceremony. The Vice President’s oath is administered immediately before the President’s. The Vice President’s oath may be administered by the retiring Vice President, by a member of Congress, or by some other Government official, such as a justice of the Supreme Court. The Vice President’s oath is as follows:
“I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same: that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”