Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has agreed to administer the oath of office for Vice President Joe Biden's second term on January 20 and 21. Gannett News Service reported this morning that Biden asked Sotomayor to officiate, and she accepted.
The selection of Sotomayor will continue a brief, uneven tradition of vice-presidents being sworn in by female Supreme Court justices. The first occasion was January 20, 1989, when Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the court's first female member, swore in Dan Quayle. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second female justice, did the honors for Vice President Al Gore's second term as vice president on January 20, 1997. Sotomayor, the court's third female, joined the court in 2009.
Long before any female served on the high court, Lyndon Johnson was sworn in by a woman in 1963, soon after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas. Local federal judge Sarah Hughes was hastily recruited for the ceremony aboard Air Force One.
By an even longer tradition, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. will swear in President Barack Obama, as he did in January, 2009. The vice-presidential ceremony has been left to the wishes of the vice president, and has on occasion been conducted by non-judges. House speaker Dennis Hastert swore in Dick Cheney for his second term as vice president on 2005.
Because the official inauguration day, January 20, falls on a Sunday this year, both Biden and Obama will be sworn in privately on the 20th and publicly on Monday the 21st.
Biden made a statement on the selection of Sotomayor: "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."