Commitment – The Oaths

Posted from the capital city of Little Rock, Arkansas by Linda Lou Burton – Before a person elected or appointed to serve in a federal position may officially take office, they are required to take an oath. The oath for the President of the United States was spelled out in Article II, Section 1, Clause 8 of the Constitution that went into effect March 4, 1789:

“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 Presidential Oath hasn’t changed since the Constitution; but the Constitution originally specified only that other officials “shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation to support this Constitution.” The First Congress reworked that into a simple fourteen-word oath in 1789 — “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States.” That remained in effect until the Civil War, when Congress mandated that the oath bar from office anyone who had been disloyal to the Union. Eventually, those elements of the “iron-clad” oath were dropped during revisions in 1868, 1871, and 1884. The oath used today has not changed since 1966 and is prescribed in Title 5, Section 3331 of the United States Code. In contrast to the Presidential Oath, where it’s used only by tradition, the phrase “so help me God” has been part of the official oath of office for non-presidential offices since 1862.

The Vice-President, all members of Congress, and every member of the President’s cabinet must take the following oath before they can assume the duties of their office.

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) 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 that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”