WASHINGTON Jan 20 Sonia Sotomayor had one eye
on the door when she
administered the oath of office to Vice President Joe Biden on
Apart from officially swearing in Biden for his second term
in office, the Supreme Court justice had other business to
attend to: signing copies of her new autobiography at a New York
City bookstore a few hours later.
Biden's office scheduled the swearing-in for 8 a.m. to allow
Sotomayor, the first Hispanic on the nation's highest court,
enough time to catch a train for a three-hour ride to New York.
On Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m., Sotomayor was due to speak
at a Barnes & Noble bookstore in Manhattan and sign copies of
her memoir, "My Beloved World."
Sotomayor's schedule was squeezed, however, when the private
ceremony at the vice president's Naval Observatory residence
began more than 20 minutes late after a Mass for Biden's friends
Before Sotomayor departed, Biden made clear he appreciated
her sticking around to give him the oath of office.
"I wanted to explain to you what a wonderful honor it was
and how much out of her way the justice had to go," Biden said
after the short event attended by family and about 120 guests.
"She is due in New York. She has to leave right now, so I
apologize," Biden said. "We are going to walk out, you see her
car's waiting so she can catch a train I hope I haven't caused
her to miss."
Despite the time pressure, Sotomayor delivered the vice
presidential oath impeccably - unlike Chief Justice John
Roberts, who mixed up the words to the shorter presidential oath
when he swore in Barack Obama as president in 2009.
Roberts swore in Obama for the president's second term just
before noon on Sunday, the day mandated by the constitution for
the president's official term to begin.
The two men, plus Biden and Sotomayor, will do it all one
more time on Monday, at a public inauguration ceremony on
Capitol Hill in front of a crowd that Washington officials say
could reach 800,000 people.
(Reporting by Alistair Bell and Roberta Rampton; Editing by
David Lindsey and Jackie Frank)