Democrats, ever since they were stunned by Donald Trump’s unexpected defeat of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 president election, have been operating in the “resist” mode.
They’ve refused, en masse, to support tax cuts for their constituents. They’ve opposed the president’s nominations and appointments. They’ve adhered to claims of “Russia collusion” despite the fact no evidence has been produced.
Some Democrats can’t give a speech without demanding impeachment, and there’s even a campaign called Need to Impeach, which, according to Newsweek, is holding a series of townhall-type meetings.
Founder Tom Steyer, who gives lots of money to Democrats, complains that Trump hasn’t responded as he wishes to Russian interference in the 2016 president election, even though it took place under Democrat Barack Obama.
Then there are the calls in Congress for Trump to be censured.
Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., has proposed a resolution that “censures and condemns President Trump for his derogatory statements about Haiti.”
It hasn’t advanced, but the Congressional Research Service has concluded that such political statements are just that, and they would mean little to the president.
The report notes arguments that there’s no constitutional provision for such an action and possibly even a constitutional prohibition.
Unless it’s simply a political statement of opinion, which is protected by the Constitution.
“While each house of Congress has authority to discipline its own members through censure, congressional censure of the president is rare. For that reason, there seems to be a recurring question as to whether Congress has the constitutional authority to adopt such a measure at all.”
The analysis concluded Congress probably can censure a president “so long as the censure does not carry with it any legal consequence.”
Which means it would be of no consequence other than to express a political opinion.
First, the analysis notes, “the Constitution does not specifically provide Congress with the authority to censure the president.”
So anything that is produced would have to fall under “implied powers.”
And because “typical censure resolutions are non-binding expressions of opinion,” constitutional authorization may not be needed.
There also is the argument that impeachment “is the exclusive means by which the Constitution permits either house of Congress to punish an executive branch official.”
That, however, is a method to judge and remove an executive branch official, and “censure is not an attempt to remove an official.”
Finally, there’s the constitutional Bill of Attainder Clause, which prohibits laws specifically attacking a person.
But bills, which become laws, are required to be sent through a specific process of review and votes, including a submission to the president for his signature.
Resolutions, the analysis found, “need not comply.”
“Therefore, it would appear that a censure in the form of a one house resolution, concurrent resolution, or report language may not qualify as either a ‘bill’ or a ‘law,’ as it would not be presented to the president, and in the case of a one house resolution or report, would not be passed by both houses of Congress,” the report found.
A resolution might not even qualify under the definition of “punishment,” the report said, “since there is no legal force to the document.”
Instead, it “generally announces only the view or opinion of one house of Congress.”
Since the GOP holds the majority in both houses of Congress, even that vote appears unlikely.