Obama Is Officially The President, Again
JACKI LYDEN, HOST:
It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.
President Obama has officially begun his second term. Shortly before noon today, he was cited the 35-word oath of office with Chief Justice John Roberts.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear...
LYDEN: After the oath, he thanked the chief justice, hugged his wife and daughters and said: I did it. NPR's Ari Shapiro is at the White House and joins us now. Hi, Ari.
ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Hi, Jacki.
LYDEN: So the public inaugural ceremonies are tomorrow. Remind us why the president took the oath of office today.
SHAPIRO: Well, basically because the Constitution requires. The Constitute says the president needs to be sworn in on January 20th before noon. He was just a couple of minutes before noon. But there is a long tradition that when Inauguration Day falls on a Sunday, the public events happen on Monday. This started almost 200 years ago in 1821 when James Monroe was being sworn in for a second term.
Inauguration Day was in March back then. But after consulting with the Supreme Court, he decided to have all of the public events on a day when the public offices and courts would be open, moving it to Monday. That's been the tradition ever since - most recently, in 1985 when Ronald Reagan was sworn in for his second term.
LYDEN: Now, memorably, the president also took the oath twice just before his first inauguration, and that put him in rare company. Take us back there.
SHAPIRO: Yeah. As you're referencing, in 2009, Chief Justice John Roberts stumbled on Inauguration Day, administering the oath, and the White House wanted to make sure that there was no question that the president had been sworn in legitimately. So they took what Roberts described as a belt-and-suspenders approach.
They brought the chief back to the White House the next day for a second swearing-in. And the fact that President Obama has had his third swearing-in today and will have his fourth tomorrow makes him only one of two presidents to take the oath of office as president four times. The other one, of course, is FDR. Franklin Delano Roosevelt served four terms as president.
LYDEN: Let's not forget the vice president, also sworn in. What happened?
SHAPIRO: Yeah. First thing this morning at the vice president's mansion a couple of miles from the White House, Sonia Sotomayor, the Supreme Court justice, swore in Vice President Biden, making her the first Hispanic and fourth woman ever to swear in a president or vice president. Of course, Sonia Sotomayor was President Obama's first appointee to the Supreme Court his first year in office. So there's a lot of significance there.
The vice president explained that they had to do it early because Sotomayor had to go off to New York. After she administered the oath, he kissed her on the cheek. President Obama did not kiss Chief Justice Roberts on the cheek.
LYDEN: And besides these oaths, there were a few other traditional inauguration events. And I'm just talking about the official ones.
SHAPIRO: Right. And there is a tradition that the president and vice president lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. They did that today. The first family also went to church today, and the Reverend Ronald Braxton delivered a sermon with a theme tied to forward, which was, of course, the Obama re-election campaign's theme. The reverend talked about the Israelites leaving Egypt and the need to move forward, as he put it, when forward is the only option.
LYDEN: NPR's Ari Shapiro. I know that everyone will be looking forward to your coverage tomorrow. Thank you.
SHAPIRO: Thank you, Jacki. Great to talk to you.
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