President Barack Obama was sworn in for his second term Sunday by Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. in a brief ceremony in the Blue Room at the White House, surrounded by his family.
Four years ago, Obama and Roberts flubbed the 35-word oath of office as specified in the Constitution, but this time, they pulled it off without a glitch.
Here’s the oath:
“I do solemnly swear 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 “so help me God” part isn’t in the Constitution but is traditionally added at the end and was in this case. And “Barack Hussein Obama” was added in at the beginning, after “I.”
The president took the oath of office with his left hand on the Robinson Family Bible, a gift from the first lady’s father, Fraser Robinson III, to his mother, LaVaughn Delores Robinson, on Mother’s Day in 1958, according to information supplied by the Presidential Inaugural Committee. LaVaughn Robinson was the first African-American female manager of a Moody Bible Institute’s bookstore, and this was the only Bible she used, according to the committee.
At the end of the oath, Roberts said, “Congratulations, Mr. President” and smiled.
Obama replied: “Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice. Thank you so much.”
The two men seemed warm, but formal, with no hint of animosity.
Obama then hugged his wife and daughters.
Obama gave his wife a “Thanks, sweetie” after she congratulated him.
“Good job, Dad!” Sasha told him.
“I did it,” he said.
“You didn’t mess up,” she replied.
Before exiting the room, the president said, “All right, thank you everybody.”
The two men have had a consequential relationship, with moments of friction and high drama. Obama lectured Roberts and the court over its Citizens United decision during his 2010 State of the Union address, while Roberts’ vote last year saved Obama’s signature health care law from annihilation at the hands of his fellow conservatives on the court.
A dozen other members of the president’s family and close friends also attended as guests for the ceremony, including his mother-in-law, Marian Robinson, and his sisters, Maya Soetoro-Ng and Auma Obama.
Activity for the day began when Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. took the oath of office for his second term at the Naval Observatory, which serves as his official residence. Unlike Obama’s small circle of witnesses, Biden was joined by 120 guests, including family and friends. Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor administered Biden’s oath. She had the honor of being the first Hispanic to administer an oath to a person of that rank.
Obama and Biden crossed paths at Arlington National Cemetery, where the pair took part in a brief wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns, which featured a traditional playing of taps. The two then split, with Obama and his family attending church services at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church to a full crowd. In the midst of the service, at the encouragement of a pastor, the congregation and others in attendance sang “Happy Birthday” to first lady Michelle Obama.
The sermon used the “forward” theme from Obama’s re-election campaign, with the Rev. Ronald E. Braxton employing the slogan throughout his remarks. The boisterous call-and-response grew in intensity during the sermon. “Forward was the only option,” Braxton said at one point, retelling the story of Moses.
The president will next appear Sunday night at an inaugural gala.
On Monday, Roberts and Obama will be repeating the oath on the West Front of the Capitol for the public inaugural ceremony — followed by the president’s big speech. A luncheon and parade are scheduled to follow the swearing-in ceremony.