Republicans Float ‘Impeachment Lite’
[su_right_ad]Republicans have done away with the idea of impeaching President Obama, but they are now considering censure. Congressmen Steve King Of Iowa and Raul Labrador of Idaho are behind it.
“I think we should censure the president of the United States,” Labrador said on CBS, days after Obama announced his actions. “I think it’s unfortunate that he did this, I think we need to lay out clearly why this is unlawful.”
Republican House leaders have been mum on how they’ll respond to Obama, and are waiting to gauge the level of enthusiasm for a censure vote on Tuesday during their first full conference meeting since the president announced his actions.
The “censure” strategy has much of the bombast of impeachment — a formal vehicle for Republicans to vent their disapproval of Obama, and throw red meat to the conservative base — without the risks of a politically nuclear confrontation that could backfire on them (not to mention, a guaranteed failure to obtain the two-thirds majority required in the Senate to remove the president from office).
But there’s one big problem with this plan: censuring the president might be unconstitutional. Or at least, any censure resolution that would meaningfully punish the president risks violating the Constitution, legal experts say.
[su_thin_right_skyscraper_ad]”If you can put together in the abstract a resolution that does nothing more than express disapproval, I think it’s possible for Congress to do that. But you can’t do more than that,” said Michael J. Gerhardt, a law professor at the University of North Carolina, who has written a law review article exploring the issue. “I think any impact beyond expression would pose a constitutional problem for the attempted censure.”
Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe said a congressional resolution to censure a president is not clearly authorized by the Constitution, “so a strict constitutionalist would say that it’s an action beyond the authority of Congress.”