Today, the Chief Justice John Marshall Commemorative Silver Dollar Coin remembers the oath of office ceremony for the first Chief Justice on October 19, 1789.
The Senate approved President Washington’s selection for Chief Justice, John Jay, on September 26. Less than a month later he officially became the Chief Justice after the oath of office.
After that first ceremony, the Chief Justice oath of office became part of the official protocol for the highest government officials.
Modern protocols have modern requirements, however the following from the Hand-book of Official and Social Etiquette and Public Ceremonials at Washington, by De Benneville Randolph Keim, published in 1889 described the protocol of that era:
The Chief Justice.
The Chief Justice of the United States takes rank third in the order of constitutional dignities, being the head of the third co-ordinate branch of the Government.
There has, at times, been some difference as to the proper title of the Chief Justice. The specific Constitutional designation of the office, is in the provisions for the trial of the President of the United States by the Senate, under articles of impeachment, “When the Chief Justice” inferentially of the United States, “shall preside.”
President Washington nominated, 1789, John Jay, and 1795, John Rutledge, “to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.”
The Senate, in their Executive Journal, referred to the nomination of the latter as “The Chief Justice of the United States.”
Washington, 1796, changed the title by nominating Oliver Ellsworth, “to be Chief Justice of the United States.”
President Adams, 1800, nominated John Jay, declined, and 1800, John Marshall, “to be Chief Justice of the United States.”
President Jackson, 1835, nominated Roger B. Taney, Lincoln, 1864, S. P. Chase, and Grant, 1874, M. R. Waite, “to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.”
President Cleveland, 1888, nominated M. W. Fuller “to be Justice of the United States.”
Chief Justices Chase and Waite signed certain papers with their proper title as First officer of the National Judiciary.
The statutory enactment of April 10, 1869, determined the question of title, by designating it as “Chief Justice of the United States.”
Investiture of the Chief Justice.
The ceremony of investiture of a Chief Justice with the robes of office is executed in the following form:
On the day designated for the purpose, The Associate Justices of the Court, in their robes, enter their chamber and observe the usual forms of meeting.
The prospective Chief Justice takes a seat at the clerk’s desk.
The Senior Associate Justice rises, and announces from the bench, that the commission of —– ——, as Chief Justice of the United States had been received, which he directs the Clerk of the Court to read.
At the close of the reading, the Clerk administers the oath of office to the Chief Justice, or the Chief Justice reads and subscribes to it himself upon “The Book,” all standing and bowing when concluded, in the presence of the Court.
The Chief Justice then retires to the lobby behind the marble screen in the rear of the Supreme Bench, where he is invested with the Judicial robe.
He is then escorted to the central opening in the screen and enters upon the bench. The Associate Justices and spectators simultaneously rise.
The Chief Justice advances, makes an obeisance to the Court, and takes the Chief Justice’s seat in the center on the bench.
The Associates then take their seats and the spectators also become seated.
Upon such an occasion the Attorney General represents the Executive and Senators and Representatives the legislative branches of the Government.
If the vacancy occurred during the recess, the Investiture takes place on the day of the re-assembling of the Court.
The Chief Justice and the President.
The Chief Justice of the United States, by virtue of his high office, administers the oath, prescribed by the Constitution, to The President, on entering on the duties of his office.
The Chief Justice and the Senate.
Pending the trial of Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, by the Senate, as a Court of Impeachment, the question of the title and powers of the Chief Justice, as presiding officer, being disputed by one of the Managers, on the part of the House, the Chief Justice said “The Chief Justice will state the rule which he conceives to be applicable. In this body he is the presiding officer; he is so by virtue of his high office under the Constitution. He is the Chief Justice of the United States, and therefore, when the President of the United States is tried by the Senate, it is his duty to preside in that body, and, as he understands, he is, therefore, the President of the Senate, sitting as a Court of Impeachment.”
In this view he was sustained. The Constitution recognizes him as The Chief Justice not in his connection with the Supreme Court of the United States, but in the broader sense of the head of the third co-ordinate branch of the Government, acting in conjunction with the second, in the performance of a momentous duty affecting the chief officer of the first.
Forms of Address.
In conversation, the proper form of address is Mr. Chief Justice. In official correspondence, “To the Chief Justice.” In unofficial communications, Mr. Chief Justice (address.)
The official and social card, bear the words, The Chief Justice.
Calls Of Etiquette.
The Chief Justice makes calls of ceremony each year, at the head of the Court, on The President and Vice-President of the United States, or President pro tempore of the Senate, if there be no Vice-President, and receives the first call from all others. He returns calls of etiquette.
The wife of the Chief Justice makes and receives calls in the same relation of rank, among ladies, and returns calls.
The ceremonies attending the obsequies of The Chief Justice of the United States, if at the Capital, are conducted with a degree of solemnity commensurate with the dignity of the chief officer of the third co-ordinate branch of the government.
The President, by official publication through the Secretary of State, announces the death of the Chief Justice, directs all public offices to close on the day of the funeral; orders the draping of the Executive Departments in mourning for thirty days, and the placing of flags at half-staff on public buildings, forts and vessels of war, on the day of the funeral, and the performance of suitable funeral honors.
The entrance to the Supreme Court Chamber and the Bench is also draped in mourning.
The funeral arrangements are in charge of the Court.
If in session, suitable announcement and action on the sad event is taken.
A meeting of citizens is usually held to make arrangements to participate, by committee, in the funeral ceremonies.
Communications of Condolence are sent to the family by The President, and resolutions of a similar character are passed by Congress, if in session, and sent to the family by the Presiding officers.
Among the pall bearers, are represented the Executive by the Cabinet, the Senate, the House, the Army and the Navy.
Chief Justice Chase having died in New York, the Marshal of the Court left for that city forthwith and took charge of the remains, which after appropriate ceremonies there, were brought to the Capital.
The pall bearers and a few friends received them at the depot upon their arrival, conveyed them to the Chamber of the Supreme Court, where they were placed on a catafalque and lay in state, the public being permitted to view them.
The obsequies have been held in the Hall of the House.
The President and the chiefs of the different Executive Departments. the Diplomatic Corps, the Congress and the Judiciary are present. The usual services are conducted according to the order of arrangements. The funeral procession to the place of interment is of a purely civic character.
The Chief Justice John Marshall Commemorative Silver Dollar Coin shows with an image of John Jay, first Chief Justice.