If you are a member of the House and you plan to read the text of the Constitution on the floor, it's probably a good idea to have already taken the oath to support and defend it first.
But one new member, Representative Mike Fitzpatrick, a Republican from Pennsylvania who failed to be officially sworn in Wednesday, proceeded nonetheless to participate in the reading, one of the first official acts of House members in the 112th Congress.
At the time of the oath-taking, both Mr. Fitzpatrick and Representative Pete Sessions of Texas were elsewhere, watching the proceedings on television. They raised their respective right hands as the oath was administered, but that was not enough to make them official.
Both men were sworn in for real on Thursday afternoon. But before that happened, a Rules Committee hearing had to be halted because Mr. Sessions was taking part in it, and both men had cast votes on the floor. House leaders were conferring to see what steps might need to be taken to make things right.
The oath-taking foul-up was not the only opening week boo-boo.
Steinhauer described three less-than-earthshaking missteps, including an inadvertent skipping of a page of the document that caused a section to be skipped, enabling a snarky headline writer to include this text box: "Let the record note that there is a Section 4 in Article IV of the Constitution."