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Thursday, October 03, 2019

Censure Didn't Work

One suggestion making the rounds is that the House of Representatives (or the Senate) should censure President Trump for his recent conduct rather than impeach. The Censure Resolution of 1834, passed by the Senate and condemning President Andrew Jackson, is cited as the principal precedent. I've written about that measure in some of my prior work.

A lesson from that example, though, is that censure is ineffective. The conduct for which President Jackson was censored (withdrawing federal deposits from the Second Bank of the United States) was not undone. His party won the ensuing midterm elections. The Democrats also won the next election round (in 1836) and then expunged the Censure Resolution from the Senate Journal. Granted, Jackson's opponents could not bring an impeachment--they lacked the votes. Censure was, for them, not a feature but a bug.

Posted by Gerard Magliocca on October 3, 2019 at 08:20 PM | Permalink


Yes, the 1834 censure is just one data point but this President seems particularly likely to be immune from that kind of reproach. I worry too about an impeachment that merely results in acquittal in the Senate as some future President will cite it as some sort of non-judicial precedent.

Posted by: TS | Oct 5, 2019 9:12:58 AM


It'll be almost impossible to determine a quid pro quo, especially since Joe Biden is not Trump's political opponent (and hardly a strong favorite to win the nomination). Because of that, I don't see how one can argue Trump is receiving any personal gain since Trump is not running in the Democratic primary and there was no talk of using the information to sway the Democratic primary and not a single vote has been case in the primaries and Biden is a weak frontrunner.

Posted by: thegreatdisappointment | Oct 4, 2019 8:07:22 PM

And I am in the opposite camp. I'm skeptical about impeaching the president for anything less that murder or treason. Do I think that what the President did here classifies as "dirty pool," probably. But so what? What is that saw about laws and sausages?

Posted by: James | Oct 4, 2019 4:36:25 PM

It seems rather odd to conclude that "censure is ineffective" from one data point.

@thegreatdisappointment: As I understand it, the House did not begin an impeachment inquiry until there was evidence of behavior beyond mere perjury or obstruction of justice. It seems to me that IF there was a quid pro quo re holding up money for Ukraine unless they investigated Hunter Biden (and note that I said "if"), that is pretty serious conduct that is far worse than perjury regarding adultery. (Though I would argue that any perjury is an impeachable offense)

Posted by: gdanning | Oct 4, 2019 12:46:07 PM

Well, we already know that perjury and obstruction of justice aren't serious enough offenses to warrant removing a president from office. The Democrats told us that in 1999.

"Starr was criticized by Democrats for spending $70 million on an investigation that substantiated only perjury and obstruction of justice."

"Only" perjury and obstruction of justice.

Censure's probably the best Democrats can do.

Posted by: thegreatdisappointment | Oct 4, 2019 3:27:01 AM

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