The chatter about possibly impeaching President Obama is growing. But pundit John Fund says there may be another way for Congress to hit back at what they see as his abuse of power.
Fund suggests Congress should pursue censure instead of impeachment. He argues that censure would put the focus on Obama’s actions while impeachment would be viewed as a personal attack against the president.
The Congressional Research Service has identified a number of historical precedents in which the Senate or the House has adopted a resolution of censure or disapproval of a president or other executive or judicial officers. Indeed, in 1998, Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein and 37 co-sponsors introduced a joint resolution in the Senate that enumerated President Clinton’s various misdeeds, and “condemn[ed] his wrongful conduct in the strongest terms.” Likewise, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic members of the House proposed similar resolutions, declaring that President Clinton’s actions “fully deserve the censure and condemnation of the American people and the Congress.”
But while impeachment isn’t appropriate, Congress must not simply acquiesce to President Obama’s numerous violations of the first Article of the Constitution, which is: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.” In the 1830s, Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky offered a Senate resolution denouncing as unconstitutional President Andrew Jackson’s actions against the Bank of the United States. He warned his fellow Senators: “The premonitory symptoms of despotism are upon us; and if Congress does not apply an instantaneous and effective remedy, the fatal collapse will soon come on.”
A resolution of censure would serve as a warning, a sort of constitutional yellow card, that Congress and the American people will not tolerate abuses of power indefinitely and that presidents who so overreach risk having a permanent blot on their record. President Obama should not be removed from office, but we will need more than mere criticism or even a lawsuit to remind him that his first duty is to uphold the laws, and that he is falling short.