Yesterday, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America, John Roberts, had one task: to administer the Constitutionally-prescribed Oath of Office to the incoming President of the United States. He blew it.
Disregarding, for the moment, his political antipathy to one of few Senators who voted against him, was it an act of:
- Freudian slip?
- Conservative hostility?
- Judicial malpractice?
Without evidence, I won't speculate over what's going on in his psyche or what his motivation was; I'm not a novelist. Oh, wait...I am.
Regardless. I'm not going there. Chief Justice Roberts couldn't spit out the words as he stood there facing President Obama.
Charitably, we could assume he simply choked due to jitters at such a historic moment in front of those 1.8 million assembled and the eyes of the entire world. Anybody would get the butterflies.
Apparently cognizant of this, C.J. Rehnquist used to use a notecard at these swearings-in as a prompt. Roberts eschewed it, thinking, I guess, he could wing it. Well, that's the problem, isn't it? We've had eight long years of people thinking they could just wing it. Let's hope that era is over.
The wingnuts, and even Fox News, are frothing over the fact that Obama cannot legitimately execute the office of the presidency because he didn't mouth the words precisely as they are set out in the U.S. Constitution. Fact is, any judge can swear him in, anywhere, anytime—if he wants a do-over. Bush's Presidency* ended at noon Jan. 20, 2009. There's nothing these people can do about it. And just remember, these are the same folks who managed to overlook the Constitutional rules regarding the Vice President's proper role and function, separation of powers, the honoring of treaties and international accords, the Establishment Clause, habeas corpus, unreasonable searches and seizures, etc., for the past eight years.
In my opinion, Roberts should proffer his resignation forthwith. He had one job to do yesterday: thirty-five words long. It is, perhaps, the most important task of his office. And he botched it. Badly. If he had any professional or personal integrity, he would resign, realizing he can no longer do his job with any respect for the Office of the Presidency, the Office of the Chief Justice, or himself. He has been exposed: the man's a hack.
UPDATE: 1/21/2009—22:00 E.S.T.: CNN and Fox News are both reporting that C.J. Roberts just re-administered the oath to Pres. Obama. I guess the President decided to give the Justice a do-over and forgive him for trying to throw a monkey wrench into the works.