One U.S. ambassador made electronic history on Friday with her swearing-in.
Rather than being sworn in with her hand on a worn leather Bible or another religious text, the new United States ambassador to Switzerland and Lichtenstein became the first U.S. official to take the oath of office on an electronic copy of the U.S. Constitution.
Ambassador Suzi LeVine was sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden at the White House with her hand on an e-reader, which was pre-loaded with a copy of the the nation’s founding document, according to Mashable.
The U.S. Embassy in London tweeted out the moment when LeVine placed her hand on the e-reader.
— U.S. Embassy London (@USAinUK) June 2, 2014
Swearing in ceremonies may just seem like a show, but they have caused some heated debate in the past. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, raised controversy in 2006 when he announced that he would take his ceremonial oath using the Koran. The Constitution provides “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States” (Article VI, section 3) and at least four presidents have not been sworn in on a Bible.
And after President Barack Obama’s first swearing-in, when he and Chief Justice John Roberts made several mistakes in the order and word choice, several constitutional scholars said that Obama should retake the oath. Boston University constitutional scholar Jack Beerman suggested that while the courts would likely never even consider a challenge, he would still advise Obama to retake the oath if he were his lawyer since “the Constitution says what he’s supposed to say.”
LeVine is the co-founder and former chair of the advisory board for the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington. She begins her job as ambassador Monday.