Chief Justices And The Presidential Oath Of Office

Just a day and two away from the next quadrennial historic moment of a Chief Justice giving the oath of office to the President of the United States, it is interesting to look at the history of Chief Justices and Presidents they have sworn in.

The record of the most Presidents sworn in by a Chief Justice is Roger Taney, appointed by Andrew Jackson,who swore into office a total of seven Presidents–Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, James K. Polk, Zachary Taylor, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and Abraham Lincoln. And Lincoln was a great antagonist of Taney.

However, Chief Justice John Marshall, appointed by John Adams, had more total swearings into office of Presidents–a total of nine times–Thomas Jefferson twice, James Madison twice, James Monroe twice, John Quincy Adams once, and Andrew Jackson twice. And all but John Quincy Adams were his antagonists.

Then we have Chief Justice William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States, who as the appointee of Warren G. Harding, swore in Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover.

And we have a former Presidential nominee, Charles Evans Hughes, who as Chief Justice, chosen by Herbert Hoover, swore in Franklin D. Roosevelt three times, and was a major antagonist of FDR and his Court “Packing” Plan.

And we have Chief Justice Earl Warren, appointed by Dwight D. Eisenhower, who swore in Ike, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon, with Nixon being a major antagonist of Warren.

Finally, we have Chief Justice John Roberts, who has had a difficult relationship with Barack Obama, and who messed up the Inaugural oath in 2009 and had to redo it the next day for accuracy; made clear his annoyance at Obama’s criticism of the Citizens United decision in his State of the Union Address in 2010; and yet backed ObamaCare in June 2012, legitimizing it for the future and saving it from extinction. Still, Roberts is no “friend” of Obama.

And of course, some extremists talk of impeaching Roberts just for the act of swearing in Obama as President for the second time. But Roberts will not be deterred from his responsibility to do this, although in reality, any Justice or judge could swear in the President of the United States.