Politics 101: What Does the Constitution Say About Inauguration Day and the President’s Duties?

We the People…

The swearing-in of a new President of the United States is always one for the history books, no matter who that person is. But what does the U.S. Constitution actually say about Inauguration Day? And what are the President’s duties? It’s time to take a look at that very document with the first article in our Politics 101 series.

To start off, let’s mention the transition of power from one leader to the next, as Barack Obama leaves office and Donald Trump enters the White House:

Amendment 20, Section 1 (Ratified 1/23/1933):
“The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3rd day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended in this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.”

The incoming President must deliver the Oath of Office:

Article II, Section 1:
“Before he enter 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.'”

And then once the new President begins his term, what are his job responsibilities? Here it is:

Article II, Section 2:
“The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

“He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

“The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.”

The Constitution also lays out the timeframe for presidential terms

Article II, Section 1:
“The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice-President chosen for the same Term, be elected…”

…and compensation:

Article II, Section 1:
“The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.”

Also, with Mike Pence as the new Vice President, do you know what the Constitution says about the second-in-command’s job responsibilities? There is literally only one duty:

Article I, Section 3, Clause 4:
“The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.”

If there is a topic that you think we should cover in our Politics 101 series, let us know!

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