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Dems Want to Censure Trump Over Charlottesville, What Does That Mean?


On Friday, news emerged that Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi announced her endorsement of a call to censure President Donald Trump over his comments about last weekend’s white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.

“The President’s repulsive defense of white supremacists demands that Congress act to defend our values,” she said.

So what does it mean to censure? Basically, it is a public condemnation of an individual’s behavior because they run counter to accepted principals. Congress implemented it to allow for something “stronger than a simple rebuke, but not as strong as expulsion.” 

According to the U.S. Senate:

Less severe than expulsion, a censure (sometimes referred to as condemnation or denouncement) does not remove a senator from office. It is a formal statement of disapproval, however, that can have a powerful psychological effect on a member and his/her relationships in the Senate. In 1834, the Senate censured President Andrew Jackson – the first and only time the Senate censured a president. Since 1789 the Senate has censured nine of its members.

The Senate censured President Andrew Jackson after he refused to turn over documents related to his defunding of the Bank of the United States. Resolutions to censure other presidents have been introduced and failed. Congress tried to censure President Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky scandal but that effort also failed.


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Rachel Stockman is Editor in Chief of Law&Crime and The Law&Crime Network. She is a former local news reporter, and was named Atlanta Press Club's 'Rising Star' in 2014. Rachel graduated from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and Yale Law School.