September 25, 1998
This week I have been talking about the fallout from the Kenneth Starr report, and recently I even focused on the question, What next? At the time I suggested that the president would not resign and probably would not be impeached. I did suggest that Congress might decide to censure him. In the coming weeks we will see if that happens, but today I want to spend a moment talking about censure.

At the outset let me say that I don't believe that Congress even has the constitutional power to censure. The Constitution provides for a separation of powers. No branch of government can interfere with another branch of government unless the Constitution expressly provides for that interference. To put it bluntly, the only way Congress can interfere with the president is through impeachment. The Constitution does not provide a mechanism for censure.

The best example of censure is Andrew Jackson. The Senate passed four censure resolutions against President Andrew Jackson at the height of the national bank controversy in 1834. At the time, President Jackson argued that the resolutions were not authorized by the Constitution and actually subversive of the rights of other branches of government. Later, the votes to censure the president were set aside. It certainly didn't hurt Andrew Jackson's popularity or place in history. He's the president on the twenty dollar bill.

But the point is this: there is only one constitutional way for Congress to deal with the president. That process is impeachment. The Constitution provides no mechanism for censure, and Congress should not consider it as a lesser option. Whether it will consider censure as an option will probably be determined by practical political considerations, not constitutional ones. I think that's unfortunate.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.

© 1998 Probe Ministries International