Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Censure is a process by which a formal reprimand is issued to an individual by an authoritative body.
The rest of this article discusses political censure in the United States of America, but the practice is not limited to this entity alone.
Censure in the United States
Censure is a congressional procedure for reprimanding the President of the United States or a member of congress for inappropriate behaviour. When used to condemn the President, however, it serves merely as a condemnation and has no direct effect on the validity of presidency. Unlike impeachment, censure has no basis in the constitution, or in the rules of the Senate and House of Representatives. It derives from the formal condemnation of either congressional body of their own members.
The one and only time a President has ever been censured was in 1834 when, under Whig control, the Senate censured Democratic President Andrew Jackson for withholding documents. The censure was expunged in 1837 when the Senate came under the control of the Democrats.
Though no framework for the process of censuring a President exists, it would likely come in the form of a concurrent resolution between both chambers, and then a public announcement. It would carry no legal effect but would probably be damaging to the president's image. There was talk of censuring President Bill Clinton in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, but ultimately full impeachment was pursued instead.
In 2004, there were calls from groups such as MoveOn.org to censure President George W. Bush for allegedly lying to congress about the claims made about weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) by the administration in the build up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. These calls have been largely ignored by Congress.
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