President Ford and President Carter had only two things in common: both served as president and both lost a presidential election. Now they have joined forces to create something else in common: they are advocating that the Senate bypass the Constitution.
Please don't get me wrong. I have the highest respect for these men and their integrity, although I often disagreed with some of their policies. These are good men, but they are calling for a compromise that is wrong. The Constitution provides for impeachment of a president. It does not provide for censure. Their latest proposal would merely try to circumvent the constitutional provisions that exist.
The Constitution provides for certain delegated powers to the federal government. The rest of the powers are reserved for the states and the people. This is called federalism. The federal government cannot give itself powers not specifically enumerated in the Constitution. Then there is the doctrine of the separation of powers. No branch of government can exercise powers over another branch not specifically delegated to it in the Constitution.
Presidents Ford and Carter's suggestion that the Senate set aside a trial and pass a censure motion violates both of those constitutional doctrines. In trying to avoid what they believe would be protracted trial, they are basically proposing a mechanism to bypass the Constitution.
And what would be the effect of a censure motion? The last president censured by the Senate was Andrew Jackson, and it had no effect on him. Today his picture is on the twenty dollar bill. Congress is not given the power to censure the president, and there is little evidence that it would have any effect.
What then should the Senate do? Follow the Constitution, hold a trial and either convict or acquit the president of the United States.
I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.
© 1998 Probe Ministries International