PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Did Chief Justice John Roberts botch the Oath of Office when he swore Barack Obama in as President of the United States on Jan. 20, 2009?
“Basically, what happened — it’s the story of a misplaced email,” Jeffrey Toobin told KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano.
Toobin, staff writer for the New Yorker and senior legal analyst at CNN, says both the president and the chief justice flubbed it.
“Obama jumped the gun in response to the first part of the oath, and Roberts became flustered – that’s what happened.”
Toobin — on a book tour promoting “The Oath” — his latest book about the Roberts Supreme Court — said Robert’s email to Obama before the oath-taking never got to the president-elect.
“Roberts’ assistant sent a copy of the oath of how it would be administered to a secretary in the congressional committee that was supervising the Inauguration,” noted Toobin. “That secretary either never read it, deleted it, or lost it — and it was never forwarded to Obama’s office. So Obama didn’t know how Roberts was dividing the words.”
That led to a very public misstating of the Oath.
Was it really necessary to redo the Oath in the White House the next day?
“Probably not,” said Toobin, “but the Obama White House lawyers — they thought, ‘Look, someone might sue. Someone might say he’s really not the president.’”
Toobin says that the Oath has been botched on several occasions by others and does not affect the legitimacy of any president.
Monday night, Toobin spoke at the Carnegie Music Hall as part of the Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures series.
He talked about a lot of other topics as well — including the role of the court in this election.
You can see the full interview with Toobin on the Sunday Business Page at 6:30 a.m. Sunday.