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The American Dictionary of the English Language defined an oath as:


"A solemn affimation or declaration, made with an appeal to God for truth of what is affirmed. The appeal to God in an oath, implies that the person imprecates his vengeance and renounces his favor if the declaration is false, or if the declaration is a promise, the person invokes the vengeance of God if he should fail to fulfill it. A false oath is called perjury"
Webster Dictionary 1828

 

 

In the United States, the oath of office for the President is specified in the Constitution (Article II, Section 1):

 

"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."

 

The oath may be sworn or affirmed (in which case it is called an affirmation instead of oath). Although not present in the text of the Constitution, it is customary for modern presidents to say "So help me God" after the end of the oath. For officers other than the President, the expression "So help me God" is explicitly prescribed, but the Judiciary Act of 1789 also explains when it can be omitted (specifically for oaths taken by court clerks): "Which words, so help me God, shall be omitted in all cases where an affirmation is admitted instead of an oath." The Constitution (Article VI, clause 3) also specifies: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.


At the start of each new U.S. Congress, in January of every odd-numbered year, newly elected or re-elected Members of Congress – the entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate – must recite an oath:

 

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.


This oath is also taken by the Vice President, members of the Cabinet, federal judges and all other civil and military officers and federal employees other than the President.

 

Federal Judiciary Oaths


In the United States, federal judges are required to take two oaths. The first oath is this:

 

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 (office) under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.

(If you don't know what PERSON actually means, I advise you visit THIS SECTION of this website.)


The second is the same oath that members of Congress take:


I, (name), 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.


Federal statute specifically says that the latter oath "does not affect other oaths required by law.

 

State and Local Oaths


The oaths of state and local officials are largely patterned on the federal oath of constitutional allegiance.

 



 





 
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