Navigation Bar Grades K-2 Grades 3-5 Grades 6-8 Grades 9-12 Parents and Teachers Home

Songs and Oaths:
The Oath of Office

In the Federal Government, in order for an official to take office, he or she must first take the oath of office. The official reciting the oath swears an allegiance to uphold the Constitution.

The Constitution only specifies an oath of office for the President; however, Article VI of the Constitution states that other officials, including members of Congress, "shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation to support this constitution."

The following includes oath information for high ranking officials from each of the three branches of Government.

President of the United States (Executive Branch)

According to the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, a President's term of office begins at 12:00 p.m. (noon) on January 20th of the year following an election. In order to assume his/her duties, the President-elect must recite the Oath of Office. The Oath is administered by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The President-elect places his hand on the Bible, raises his right hand, and takes the Oath as directed by the Chief Justice. The Oath, as stated in Article II, Section I, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution, is as follows:

"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."

Vice President of the United States (Executive Branch)

The Vice President also takes an oath of office. Until 1933, the Vice President took the oath of office in the Senate. Today, both the President and Vice President are inaugurated in the same ceremony. The Vice President's oath is administered immediately before the President's. The Vice President's oath may be administered by the retiring vice president, by a member of Congress, or by some other government official, such as a justice of the Supreme Court. The Vice President's oath is as follows:

"I do solemnly swear 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 I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."

Members of Congress (Legislative Branch)

At the start of each new Congress, in January of every odd-numbered year, the entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate takes an oath of office. The Speaker of the House will direct the Members to rise and the oath is administered. The original oath was as follows: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States."

The oath was revised during the Civil War, when members of Congress were concerned about traitors. The current oath is as follows:

"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."

Supreme Court Justices (Judicial Branch)

According to Title 28, Chapter I, Part 453 of the United States Code, each Supreme Court Justice takes the following oath:

"I, [NAME], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as [TITLE] under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.''

To learn more, check out the following resources:


A service of the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Publishing Office.

Last updated: February 1, 2007
HelpHomeBack to Symbols.Page Name: http://bensguide.gpo.gov/symbols/oaths.html