WCAP Sunday Special

A. Joseph Ross lawyer@attorneyross.com
Sun Jan 23 23:19:46 EST 2005

On 23 Jan 2005 at 17:40, Joseph Pappalardo wrote:

> The constitution says the new President will assume the duties at a
> specified hour on the clock.  (Not by the recitation of the oath.)

What it says is that the terms of the President and Vice President end at noon on 20 
January, and the terms of their successors then begin.  But it also says that "before he enter 
on the execution of his office" he has to take the oath.  So it would seem to me that the new 
President is President, but cannot act until he takes the oath of office.  So who can act?  It's 
always seemed to me that, if anything really needed action at that time, it would be trivially 
easy to swear the new President in.  But apparently, some scholars were of the opinion that 
the Speaker was technically in charge during that hour.  I don't think I agree, since in order 
to act as President, the Speaker is required first to resign as Speaker and as a 
Representative.  It's probably easier just to swear in the President.

But it is reported, that with his characteristic wit, when it finally came time for his swearing 
in, President Kennedy remarked to someone, "Oh, let's wait another few minutes and let the 
Speaker be President awhile longer."

A. Joseph Ross, J.D.                           617.367.0468
 15 Court Square, Suite 210                 lawyer@attorneyross.com
Boston, MA 02108-2503           	         http://www.attorneyross.com

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