Just wondering if this is possible --- I know the 20th amendment states the outgoing president's tenure is UNTIL Jan 20th at noon, but am curious if, since the electors certified the incoming president as president on January 6th, if he could theoretically be sworn in BEFORE Jan. 20th (and then again ON the 20th as just done ceremonially).

  • @Carpetsmoker - Related maybe, but it's not a duplicate. Jan 19, 2017 at 17:09
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    I can not fathom why some people think this is a duplicate of "president for a day". Reopened by user request through the flag system.
    – Philipp
    Jan 20, 2017 at 9:39

1 Answer 1


Constitutional Requirements Don't Prevent It

The Constitutional requirements do not prevent this from happening. As stated in the question, the 20th amendment specifies when a President's term starts and ends:

The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January ...; and the terms of their successors shall then begin

Article 2 (Section 1) of the Constitution describes the oath/affirmation requirement:

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation...

The two requirements allow for the President to be sworn in before hand. There is no specific time mandated for the inauguration to occur, and nothing preventing it from happening more than once.

The Oath and the Presidency

To address some comments, taking the oath of office doesn't make someone President. A President-Elect could take the oath anytime they like, but the 20th amendment specifies when their term begins: immediately after the previous President's term ends. From the amendment (emphasis mine):

The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January ...; and the terms of their successors shall then begin

  • I don't see how this "clearly" allows for an earlier inauguration. The amendment does not say "shall end at noon on the 20th day of January or upon the earlier inauguration of the president-elect". If the president were to die on January 19, I would expect the VP to be sworn in to finish the term.
    – jalynn2
    Jan 19, 2017 at 18:24
  • Maybe I shouldn't suppose it is clear to all readers. The only requirement is that the oath is taken before the president-elect begins their duties. Taking the oath doesn't make them president. So if Trump took the oath Jan.1, Obama could step down and allow Biden to become President anytime. Jan 19, 2017 at 18:44
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    From reading the 20th amendment, what is clear to me is that it specifies when the president's term ENDS -- it doesn't equivocally state that it cannot BEGIN BEFORE Jan. 20th. Obviously we know it can't begin any earlier than Jan. 6th, as that is when electors certify the vote. But as I read it, it seems possible for the incoming president to take the oath of office even privately as early as Jan. 6th and just do the formal ceremony on Jan. 20th. So in a sense, we would have this 'transitional' period b/w 1/6 and 1/20 where it seems there would be dual or two presidents at the same time.
    – cheryl
    Jan 19, 2017 at 18:58
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    @cheryl - I'll make this more clear in my answer also, but taking the oath doesn't make you president. If the President-Elect took the oath on January 6, they wouldn't become President until the 20th of January immediately after noon. This is clarified at the end of my first quote, "and the terms of their successors shall then begin." Jan 19, 2017 at 19:26
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    @cheryl the president's term cannot begin before noon on Jan 20th, not lease because the previous president is still president at that time. If the president elect took the oath before noon on Jan 20th, the most it could mean would be that the president can begin acting as president at the stroke of noon, whereas if he takes it after noon, he cannot begin acting as president until he he takes the oath. In other words, to act as president, one must swear or affirm the oath or affirmation, and the constitutionally mandated term of office must have begun.
    – phoog
    Jan 19, 2017 at 19:58

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