Topic: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

At the inauguration, the cannons were fired (officially indicating 12:00 noon) BEFORE Trump had finished taking the oath.

Since it is mandated by the constitution that the incumbent president must have taken the oath BEFORE noon on the day of the inauguration, is Trump POTUS or not?

Re: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

Yes, don't be daft.

Congratulations America on a new president, hope he brings you all pride and prosperity!

3 (edited by Xeno 20-Jan-2017 18:59:23)

Re: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

Bigthroat wrote:

Yes, don't be daft.

Congratulations America on a new president, hope he brings you all pride and prosperity!

But:

AMENDMENT XX
Passed by Congress March 2, 1932. Ratified January 23, 1933.

Note: Article I, section 4, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of this amendment. In addition, a portion of the 12th amendment was superseded by section 3.

Section 1.
The terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

How can the term of the incumbent president begin at noon if he hadn't finished taking the oath by noon?

Re: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

He had by my count wink

Remember, your last president reigned for 8 years with a genuine concern about his eligibility due to birth certificate malfunctions.  If that can be overlooked, someone firing off their load (cannon) early means little...

Besides, your quote says nothing about the timing of the oath?

5 (edited by Xeno 20-Jan-2017 19:38:54)

Re: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

Bigthroat wrote:

He had by my count wink

Remember, your last president reigned for 8 years with a genuine concern about his eligibility due to birth certificate malfunctions.  If that can be overlooked, someone firing off their load (cannon) early means little...

Besides, your quote says nothing about the timing of the oath?

Your count doesn't matter.  The official time, as indicated by the firing of the cannons, is the count that matters.

And article 2 clause 8 of the constitution clearly indicates the oath must be taken before taking office:

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—"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."[2]

And by my reading of the 20th amendment, the taking of the oath of office must completed before noon, not after.  For if the previous POTUS's office ends at noon, and the new POTUS's office is to start when the previous POTUS's office ends, this means the new POTUS's office must START at noon; this is not possible if the new POTUS hasn't finished taking the oath BEFORE noon. 

So, according to the constitution, its spirit and letter, is Trump POTUS or isn't he?

Re: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

I still don't understand how you get timing from that? The handover is it noon, fine, and the new president cannot exercise any authority before he's taken the oath ( enter on the Execution of his Office), but not that the oath has to be taken before noon?  Perhaps I'm missing a broader understanding of the Constitution, but in your quotes this is how it appears to me?

Once again though, I wholly Congratulate you on your new President smile

Re: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

I'm British and think Trump is the worlds biggest imbecile but he's clearly the President, no matter how much people wish otherwise. Congratulations America

I might play this game, but I have more of a life than you

Re: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

I read that part of the constitution as more of a procedure guideline than a set of requirements.

Of course, it can be a big deal if the people make it so.  After all, the "genuine" concern over Obama's birth certificate only became an issue because people wouldn't let it go despite the ridiculousness of the whole thing.

This could go the same way in theory, but I doubt it will.  Whereas Obama's birth certificate issue was his opposition grasping at straws and creating drama where none existed, trump exists in a stench of controversy that he willingly perpetuates.

I would guess that any inaugural flub will be less than a footnote compared to the larger and more practical issues people are concerned about.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

9 (edited by Xeno 20-Jan-2017 20:25:38)

Re: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

Bigthroat wrote:

I still don't understand how you get timing from that? The handover is it noon, fine, and the new president cannot exercise any authority before he's taken the oath ( enter on the Execution of his Office), but not that the oath has to be taken before noon?  Perhaps I'm missing a broader understanding of the Constitution, but in your quotes this is how it appears to me?

Once again though, I wholly Congratulate you on your new President smile

It's the specific wording of the 20th amendment which is the issue:

the terms of their successors shall then begin

The key word is THEN, which would mean 'at noon'.

Trump's office could not have begun 'at noon' because he hadn't finished taking the oath BEFORE noon.

I, personally, do not think this should be a problem according to the spirit of the law.  But is there any precedent whereby an incumbent POTUS hadn't finished taking the oath before noon?  If so, and there was a ruling on the matter saying it didn't matter, great: whether or not Trump finished taking the oath before noon is a non-issue, then.  Fine.

But if there hasn't been a precedent of an incumbent POTUS not finishing taking the oath before noon, and thus there has never been a ruling on the matter, shouldn't there be a ruling made in Trump's case?

The question is simply, has any incumbent POTUS since 1933 failed to complete the oath before noon on inauguration day?  Did it matter?

10 (edited by Xeno 20-Jan-2017 20:20:32)

Re: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

Genuine question to Americans who don't just not support Trump

Please don't derail this thread.  Your question is for a different thread.  This thread is about a purely constitutional, legal issue:

Does it or does it not matter whether or not an incumbent POTUS completes taking the oath of office AFTER noon on inauguration day.

Re: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

Very sorry to cause you this upset.

There is nothing in the media anywhere about the timing being an issue - I would have expected someone to call it out by now.

Re: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

Bigthroat wrote:

Genuine question to Americans who don't just not support Trump, but seem to outright hate him; I've seen all the mainstream character assaults against him, but have not seen any proof of anything that honestly seems that important? Perhaps there's more on your news, but besides a few immature passing comments, he seems to have genuinely done some good things over his lifetime.  Surely no-one would claim that the Clintons don't have unpleasantness in their past, and from what I'm aware of it far outdoes anything Trump could fairly be accused of.  Is there something I'm missing?

As this can be a very emotional subject for some people, please keep it civil if you think I'm wrong on every count wink

DERAILED!

13 (edited by Xeno 20-Jan-2017 23:34:51)

Re: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

So, Pie, Zarf, anyone?

Has there ever been an incumbent POTUS since 1933 who hadn't finished taking the oath before noon?

Re: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

It seems that the oath must be taken AFTER becoming president (after 12 noon), but before exercising powers of office (http://www.heritage.org/constitution/#! … -of-office).

Re: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

Bigthroat wrote:

It seems that the oath must be taken AFTER becoming president (after 12 noon), but before exercising powers of office (http://www.heritage.org/constitution/#! … -of-office).

Can you indicate the exact wording where it says that?  I can't find it.

Re: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

Of course.  After the quote, first paragraph, second sentence:

"The President takes the oath after he assumes the office but before he executes it."

17 (edited by Xeno 20-Jan-2017 21:50:18)

Re: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

The President takes the oath after he assumes the office but before he executes it.

Oh, I see.  That phrase you quote isn't a reference from the constitution nor in reference to any ruling on the matter. 

It's just the commentary on that website or its 'say so' on the matter.

Seems weak.

I'm still not convinced it doesn't matter whether an incumbent POTUS takes the oath of office after or before noon on inauguration day.

18 (edited by Bigthroat 20-Jan-2017 20:57:40)

Re: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

No problem.

(http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/PROJECTS/F … nstit.html) "To avoid a constitutional power vacuum, the Inauguration Day program is certain to schedule the swearing in for as close as possible to noon." - not a specific time (University of Missouri, Law Dept.)

Any better?  Apparently, in 2009, Obama made a faux-pas and quoted the oath incorrectly by inserting his name, which made some question its validity.  This did not effect his office.

It seems your law make provision for mistakes by allowing a "do-over" at a later date, so I'm assuming the timing is not too important...

19 (edited by Xeno 20-Jan-2017 21:10:50)

Re: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

Bigthroat wrote:

No problem.

(http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/PROJECTS/F … nstit.html) "To avoid a constitutional power vacuum, the Inauguration Day program is certain to schedule the swearing in for as close as possible to noon." - not a specific time (University of Missouri, Law Dept.)

Any better?  Apparently, in 2009, Obama made a faux-pas and quoted the oath incorrectly by inserting his name, which made some question its validity.  This did not effect his office.

It seems your law make provision for mistakes by allowing a "do-over" at a later date, so I'm assuming the timing is not too important...

Right, so the question is whether or not a 'do-over' is necessary in the event an incumbent POTUS doesn't finish taking the oath by noon; it would seem absurd for him do have to do so...

Re: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

The 'do-over' seems to be for making mistakes with the wording, so as the wording was correct I cannot imagine there would be any need to do so - doing it again later because it was done late would seem asinine smile

My apologies for derailing your thread, and I hope I've helped you with your original question.

21 (edited by Xeno 20-Jan-2017 21:44:14)

Re: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

My apologies for derailing your thread, and I hope I've helped you with your original question.

No apology needed, as, presently, thread isn't derailed.  We're still on topic.  I totally agree it would be ridiculous for Trump to have to re-do the oath because he didn't finish it by noon.

That said, our opinion on whether or not it would be ridiculous is irrelevant.  It's about whether or not there is a constitutional requirement for an incumbent POTUS to complete taking the oath before noon.

As far as I can tell by reading the constitution and the 20th amendment (of course I'm not a supreme court judge or anything and so my interpretation of reading it is, ultimately, irrelevant as well), the letter of the constitution indicates to me that there is such a constitutional requirement.  For how can the "term" an incumbent POTUS begin "then" (that is at noon) if he hasn't finished taking the oath by "then"?

I mean, if it has always been the case since the 20th amendment was ratified in 1933 that EVERY incumbent POTUS has finished taking oath before noon, what does it mean that Trump didn't finish taking the oath before noon?  Does it mean he isn't technically POTUS?

If so, might an amendment to the 20th amendment be in order?  Or, perhaps, a ruling by the supreme court stipulating what the word "then" in the 20th amendment actually refers to? 

"Then" could be interpreted to be "subsequently", or it could be interpreted as "at that exact moment".  It's ambiguous.

Re: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

Other than to reiterate the quotes from Missouri Uni Law Dept., that says the presidential handover of power is noon but the new President cannot exercise his power until after the oath, I cannot find anything else on the timing of this event.  Seemingly, specific timing is to prevent a power vacuum, and is not a requirement for taking office.

Of note in this regard, Obama made mistakes in both 2009 and 2013, seemingly leading to 'do-overs' for both, so effectively the oath had not been said until the second attempt.

Re: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

Of note in this regard, Obama made mistakes in both 2009 and 2013, seemingly leading to 'do-overs' for both, so effectively the oath had not been said until the second attempt.

Right, and so the question is, until Obama did each re-do, had each of his 'terms' begun?  This depends on whether an incumbent POTUS's 'term' begins with the execution or merely the assumption of the office of POTUS.

If a POTUS's 'term' begins with merely 'assuming' the office POTUS before executing the office of POTUS, an incumbent POTUS wouldn't have to take the oath at all in order to begin his 'term'.

This doesn't make sense. 

And so it seems to me the 'term' of the POTUS would necessarily have to refer to the both assuming the presidency AND executing the office of POTUS; that taking the oath would be a prerequisite of beginning the 'term'.

And if the 'term' must begin 'then' and 'then' refers to 'at noon on inauguration day', I think there might be a constitutional issue regarding an incumbent POTUS who, for whatever reason, doesn't complete taking the oath of office before 'noon on inauguration day'.  This constitutional issue could be remedied by either an amendment of the 20th amendment to change the word 'then' to something less ambiguous or at least some ruling by the supreme court stipulating that the word 'then' in the 20th amendment means 'subsequently' rather than 'noon on inauguration day'.

Re: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

Hand-over is 12 noon, and the term of the new President begins.  They can exercise their powers after the oath from the legal reviews I read/linked.  Trumps term has begun, and he has completed his oath... I really don't think there's anything beyond this?  He is both POTUS by beginning his term, and free to exercise his authority by oath.

Specificities in older legal documents come up very regularly in todays world, not least of all arguments like freedom of speech, right to bare arms, etc., which have their bounds contested due to the difference in how exact wording is expected to be in modern law-writing.  I think for a major ceremonial event a few minutes discrepancy is unlikely to be considered of consequence, and see no evidence to this effect.

Short of finding a professional Constitutional lawyer, I doubt you'll be able to ascertain much more on this question, as the legal documentation I have found does not seem to clarify anything regarding the precise timing of the oath, other than to say it should be completed "as soon as possible", which is, as you say, mildly ambiguous.

Re: Is Trump POTUS or not POTUS?

Xeno wrote:

I totally agree it would be ridiculous for Trump to have to re-do the oath because he didn't finish it by noon.

That said, our opinion on whether or not it would be ridiculous is irrelevant.  It's about whether or not there is a constitutional requirement for an incumbent POTUS to complete taking the oath before noon.

That may be true in theory but in practice our opinion is very much relevant.

The political machine doesn't exist in a vacuum, but rather it is subject to the sway of public opinion even for things that should be a matter of objective truth.

In other words: even if it was *clearly* the case that Trump isn't our POTUS, it wouldn't matter until enough people cared enough to make it matter.

This isn't anything new.  It happens all the time, which is why there are processes in place to evaluate the constitutionality of events/legislation in the first place.

If your question is literally about technicalities, then it really depends on the interpretation of the specific wording by an entity with authority to make an official decision on the matter.  I don't think there is a single truth to this question due to the lack of clarity of what happens when these conditions aren't met with exactness.

The follow up question then should be "should we expect an investigation/evaluation/decision on this matter?".

The answer to that depends in a big way on public opinion and the pressure threshold for the government to respond.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯