January 20 would mark the end of the Trump era in US politics as Joe Biden takes over from him and becomes the 46th president of the United States of America. Alongside Biden would be Kamala Harris, who would become the first woman to become America’s Vice-President.
Here’s all you need to know about the swearing-in ceremony.
Was it always January 20?
No. For a long time January 20 was not the default date for a new presidency to begin.
It had been decided that March 4 would be the date for swearing-in of the new president. However, George Washington, the first president of the US, took the oath of office on April 30, 1789, partly due to weather stopping the Congress from establishing a quorum.
This images shows a depiction of Abraham Lincoln taking the oath of office as the 16th president of the United States administered by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney in front of the US Capitol in Washington, on March 4, 1861. (AP)
In 1933, the ratification of the 20th Constitutional amendment established that the terms of the President and the Vice-President would instead end at noon on Jan. 20, ending any discrepancy over the beginning of the new presidency.
Was Donald Trump required to attend the ceremony?
There is no provision or law that mandates the presence of the outgoing President at the inauguration ceremony. However, it has been a tradition.
A fallout of the US Capitol siege has been the increased presence of security personnel in Washington. (Reuters)
Is he the first US president to skip the ceremony?
After raising doubts over the election results for months which eventually led to the Capitol siege on January 6, Donald Trump has declared he won’t attend Biden’s swearing-in. While the decision is unheard of in modern US history, Trump is not the first US president to do so.
In 1801, John Adams became the first president to shun the swearing-in ceremony of Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States.
What is the oath that the President takes?
As per the US constitution, the President has to take the following oath.
“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.”
Donald Trump was sworn in as President on January 20, 2017. (AFP photo)
Is he/she required to carry a bible?
While traditionally the Presidents have used a Bible while taking oath, it is not compulsory. John Quincy Adams, 6th US President used a book of law for taking oath. Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President, did not use a Bible during his swearing-in.
What would happen in the inauguration ceremony?
The event would start with the oath ceremony for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President elect Kamala Harris. While Biden will be sworn-in by Chief Justice John G Roberts, as has been the tradition in America, Kamala Harris will be sworn-in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
The Capitol building is seen with decorative flags on the National Mall on January 19, 2021 in Washington, DC. (AFP)
After that, Biden would be delivering an inaugural address “laying out his vision to defeat the pandemic, build back better, and unify and heal the nation,” according to the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
Following that would be “Pass in Review” – a long-standing military tradition signaling the peaceful transfer of power to a new Commander-in-Chief.
Lady Gaga would be performing the national anthem at the swearing in ceremony while Jennifer Lopez would give a musical performance.
What about coronavirus? Is it affecting the ceremony?
America is going through one of his worst phases of coronavirus. Till date, it has having registered over 24 million cases so far. Naturally, the Covid-19 crisis has had an effect on the inauguration ceremony.
While usually a traditional inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue followed the swearing-in, this time a virtual “Parade Across America” will be held, with participation from different parts of the country.
The parade will feature “diverse, dynamic performances in communities across the country,” said the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
While the public was allowed to come to DC and be part of the swearing-in over the years,the idea has been dispensed with this year.
Many other events, such as the inaugural balls, have been reimagined or cancelled in wake of the coronavirus.
Where can I watch it?
The Biden inauguration ceremony will be broadcast live on bideninaugural.org/watch. The swearing-in ceremony can also be live streamed on the official page/account of Biden Inaugural Committee across YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Twitch.
(With inputs from NYT, USA Today)