Can One Take an Oath of Office With Anything Other Than a Religious Article?

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Can one take an oath of office with one hand on anything other than a religious article? For a federal position, can a copy of the Constitution do the job? For state or other local offices, can one fulfill the “requirement” by using a copy of the state constitution or city charter?

Steve Harris:

Several presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt, used law literature in swearing-in, simply to emphasize that it is not a religious test of any kind.

Technically, you don’t need to use anything; you could do it empty-handed. Nor does anybody need to administer the oath to the president. The Constitution really says very little about it, other than the words. It doesn’t even say you’re not president until you take the oath, merely that you take it (as oath or affirmation) once you are. In theory, you could wait.

LBJ was in a such a tearing hurry that he took the oath before leaving Dallas after JFK was killed. Most scholars agreed he jumped the gun, just as he did by jumping on and crowding JFK’s jet when he himself had an identical one that went home empty (especially since any jet carrying the president is Air Force One).

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