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May 2005

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This article is in the news archives --- for current news go to the Third Branch News.

 

Local Swearing-In Ceremony Brings Community to Court


On a sunny Miami, Florida, morning, a week after the beginning of the 109th Congress, four members of the House of Representatives stood on the steps of the James Lawrence King Federal Justice building, raised their right hands and swore to uphold the Constitution and perform the duties of their elected office. Judge James Lawrence King (S. D. Fla.) administered the oath of office, as he has done in four previous local swearing-in ceremonies over the last six years.

“The official swearing-in is at the Capital but many of the Representative’s local supporters and well wishers cannot travel to Washington to attend, “ said King. “By holding a local swearing-in ceremony, an opportunity is provided for everyone to actually see them being sworn in. Usually there are several hundred people who attend.

“GSA arranges for several hundred folding chairs, flags, podium, sound system and whatever else is needed for the program. We keep it short, with each of the representatives making brief remarks, and there’s always a marching band from a local high school and choirs from one or more of the local churches.”

This year, Florida Representatives Kendrick Meek, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and brothers Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart participated in what has become a popular community and court function. “It is a very happy occasion,” said King. “Everybody has a lot of fun. It creates, I think, goodwill not only between our court and the local Members of Congress, but with the state judiciary and all the local and federal officials.”

It’s goodwill that Chief Judge Deanell Tacha (10th Cir.), chair of the Judicial Conference Committee on the Judicial Branch, hopes will spread to other federal courts.

“We’d like to encourage more courts to reach out to members of Congress in their districts,” she said. “Local swearing-in ceremonies express the close ties of the Legislative and Judicial Branches. And they involve the public in a celebration of our right to elect our government representatives.”