Sunday, January 20, 2013

Vice President Joe Biden Takes The Oath Of Office At The Naval Observatory

Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor officiates; private ceremony included 120 guests and celebratory breakfast...
Vice President Joe Biden and his family and guests celebrated a Catholic mass at his Naval Observatory residence on Sunday morning ahead of the swearing-in ceremony for his second term, with the oath of office administered by Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor. (Above, Dr. Jill Biden holds the family bible as the Vice President takes the oath)

120 guests attended, according to the Vice President's Office, including Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary Ken Salazar, President Obama's longtime advisor David Axelrod, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic National Committee Chair Nancy Wasserman-Schultz, AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka, other current and former members of Congress, and other Democratic political figures.

Standing on a small blue stage surrounded by Dr. Jill Biden and extended family, the Vice President, wearing a dark suit, took the oath of office at 8:21 AM.  He was backdropped by an American flag, and placed his hand on a massive family Bible dating to 1893, held by Dr. Biden.  The Bible has a Celtic Cross on the cover, and the Vice President will use it again at Monday's ceremony at the Capitol. 

"Vice President Biden personally selected Associate Justice Sotomayor, who will be the first Hispanic and fourth female judge to administer an oath of office," the Vice President's Office said.  She will do a repeat performance on Monday at the Capitol.  The Vice President and Justice Sotomayor were introduced at 8:18 for the swearing in, as the guests stood and applauded.

Rev. Kevin O’Brien, S. J.,Vice President for Mission and Ministry at Georgetown University,  offered a prayer on behalf of the Vice President "as he renews his sacred pledge to his country."

"Amid all the complexities of our world, a world so beautiful but also broken, give him a share of your wisdom so that he can know what is good and give him the courage to always do what is right," said Rev. O'Brien, and he also prayed for the President and First Family.

Sotomayor then administered the oath to "Joseph R. Biden, Jr." In 2009, Justice John Paul Stevens included his full middle name, Robinette, pool noted. It's the same oath Biden took as a Senator seven times, and once before for Vice President.

After the oath was completed, Biden kissed the Justice and told her it was an honor. He then turned to acknowledge the applause of the audience, and turned to hug and kiss his wife.

As the crowd continued to applaud Biden grabbed Justice Sotomayor's hands, saying, "Madame Justice these are some of my friends, and family."

"I want to explain to you what a wonderful honor it was, and how much out of her way the Justice had to go," the Vice President told his guests.  "She is due in New York. She has to leave right now. So I apologize."

The Justice had a book promotion appearance scheduled in New York, and the Vice President escorted her out, and also made his own exit, heading to Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns with President Obama.

"I'll be back, they tell me, in 40 minutes," Biden said.  "I hope of some you will still be here. But I thank you very, very, very much for sharing this morning with Jill and me. And Madame Justice, it's been an honor - a great honor. Thank you!"

"Enjoy breakfast!" the Vice President said as he departed.  The breakfast was served outdoors on the grounds of the Naval Observatory.

Pooler Mike Memoli of LA Times caught up with Democratic strategist/CNN commentator Donna Brazile, who said the Vice President's ceremony was for her "such a special occasion."  (Above, a long view of the ceremony, tweeted by Memoli)

"I've known Joe Biden for over 25 years and to witness his private swearing in with his friends, close friends and family, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor, I don't think it gets any better," Brazile said. Perhaps it gets better with President Obama and Chief Justice Roberts. But I saw that video. This was new, this was different, and I'm so grateful to be part of this historic occasion."

Pool asked about the inclusion of some notable early primary state guests and other Democratic notables.

"Of course we can always start the political calculations in terms of the number of delegates needed to secure a nomination. But let's just say I see a number of superdelegates here as well," Brazile said.

Three women have previously sworn-in presidents and vice presidents, according to the Vice President's Office:  Judge Sarah T. Hughes swore-in President Johnson in 1963; Justice Sandra Day O’Connor swore-in Vice President Dan Quayle in 1989; and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg swore-in Vice President Al Gore in 1997. 

"'It's an incredible honor to have Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor swear me in," the Vice President said in a statement. "I believed strongly that she would make a great Justice, and it was one of the greatest pleasures of my career to be involved in her selection to the Court.  From the first time I met her, I was impressed by Justice Sotomayor’s commitment to justice and opportunity for all Americans, and she continues to exemplify those values today. Above all, I’m happy for the chance to be sworn in by a friend – and someone I know will continue to do great things.'"

Biden has used his family Bible every time he was sworn in as a US Senator, and when he was sworn in as Vice President in 2009.  His son Beau Biden used it when he was sworn in as Delaware’s Attorney General.

An American flag from the Vice President’s Ceremonial Office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building was displayed behind the stage as the Vice President took his oath, as were two paintings: N.C. WYETH's Lincoln Delivering His Second Inaugural Address and Victor Letonoff's So Proudly We Hailed.

Guests were seated in three rooms for the ceremony, all with a view of the main room where the Vice President stood on the stage to take his oath. Along with Dr. Biden and Justice Sotomayor, the Vice President was surrounded by Beau Biden, Hallie Biden, R. Hunter Biden, Natalie Biden, Hunter Biden, Kathleen Biden, Naomi Biden, Finnegan Biden, Maisy Biden, Ashley Biden, and Howard Krein.

During the brief 9:00 AM ceremony at Arlington, the President and Biden placed a large wreath with blue and red flowers at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and then stood with their hands on their hearts as 'Taps" was played.  President Obama will take the oath of office at a small White House ceremony at 11:55 AM today.

In addition to those listed above, guests at the ceremony included: Fmr Sen. Ted Kaufman, Donna Brazile, Fmr Sen. Chris Dodd, ex-White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, Rep. Jim Clyburn, Sen. Bob Casey, Sen. Tim Kaine, Gov. Maggie Hassan, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and Tom Donilon.

*Top photo by @ObamaInaugural; second from Office of the Vice President