A censure is an expression of strong disapproval or harsh criticism. In parliamentary procedure, it is a debatable main motion that could be adopted by a majority vote. Among the forms that it can take are a stern rebuke by a legislature, a spiritual penalty imposed by a church, or a negative judgment pronounced on a theological proposition, it is usually non-binding (requiring no compulsory action from the censured party), unlike a Motion of no confidence (which may require the referenced party to resign).
Explanation and use
The motion to censure is a main motion expressing a strong opinion of disapproval that could be debated by the assembly and adopted by a majority vote. According to Robert's Rules of Order (Newly Revised) (RONR), it is an exception to the general rule that "a motion must not use language that reflects on a member's conduct or character, or is discourteous, unnecessarily harsh, or not allowed in debate." Demeter's Manual notes, "It is a reprimand, aimed at reformation of the person and prevention of further offending acts." While there are many possible grounds for censuring members of an organization, such as embezzlement, absenteeism, drunkenness, and so on, the grounds for censuring a presiding officer are more limited:
Serious grounds for censure against presiding officers (presidents, chairmen, etc.) are, in general: arrogation or assumption by the presiding officer of dictatorial powers – powers not conferred upon him by law – by which he harasses, embarrasses and humiliates members; or, specifically: (1) he refuses to recognize members entitled to the floor; (2) he refuses to accept and to put canonical motions to vote; (3) he refuses to entertain appropriate appeals from his decision; (4) he ignores proper points of order; (5) he disobeys the bylaws and the rules of order; (6) he disobeys the assembly's will and substitutes his own; (7) he denies to members the proper exercise of their constitutional or parliamentary rights.
More serious disciplinary procedures may involve fine, suspension, or expulsion. In some cases, the assembly may declare the chair vacant and elect a new chairman for the meeting; or a motion can be made to permanently remove an officer (depending on the rules of the assembly).
If the motion is made to censure the presiding officer, then he must relinquish the chair to the vice-president until the motion is disposed, but during this time, the vice-president is still referred to as "Mr. Vice President" in debate, since a censure is merely a warning and not a proceeding that removes the president from the chair. An officer being censured is not referred to by name in the motion, but simply as "the president", "the treasurer", etc.
After a motion to censure is passed, the chair (or the vice-president, if the presiding officer is being censured) addresses the censured member by name, he may say something to the effect of, "Brother F, you have been censured by vote of the assembly. A censure indicates the assembly's disapproval of your conduct". ([at meetings.] This phrase should not be included as the cause for censure may have occurred outside of meetings.) "A censure is a warning. It is the warning voice of suspension or expulsion. Please take due notice thereof and govern yourself accordingly." Or, if the chair is being censured, the vice-president may say, "Mr. X, you have been censured by the assembly for the reasons contained in the resolution. I now return to you the presidency."
Censure is an action by the House of Commons or the Senate rebuking the actions or conduct of an individual; the power to censure is not directly mentioned in the constitutional texts of Canada but is derived from the powers bestowed upon both Chambers through section 18 of the Constitution Act, 1867. A motion of censure can be introduced by any Member of Parliament or Senator and passed by a simple majority for censure to be deemed to have been delivered. In addition, if the censure is related to the privileges of the Chamber, the individual in question could be summoned to the bar of the House or Senate (or, in the case of a sitting member, to that member's place in the chamber) to be censured, and could also face other sanctions from the house, including imprisonment. Normally, censure is exclusively an on-the-record rebuke — it is not equivalent to a motion of no confidence, and a prime minister can continue in office even if censured.
In Japan, a censure motion is a motion that can be passed by the House of Councillors, the upper house of the Japanese Diet. No-confidence motions are passed in the House of Representatives, and this generally doesn't happen as this house is controlled by the ruling party. On the other hand, censure motions have been passed by opposition parties several times during the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) administrations from 2009; the motions were combined with a demand from the opposition to take a certain action, and a refusal to cooperate with the ruling party on key issues unless some actions were taken.
For example, on 20 April 2012 the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Your Party and New Renaissance Party submitted censure motions against ministers of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's cabinet, they censured Minister of Defense Naoki Tanaka and Minister of Land Takeshi Maeda, and refused to cooperate with the government on passing an increase to Japan's consumption tax from 5% to 10%. Noda had "staked his political life" on passing the consumption tax increase, so on 4 June 2012, Noda reshuffled his cabinet and replaced Tanaka and Maeda.
On 28 August 2012, a censure motion was passed by the LDP and the New Komeito Party against Prime Minister Noda himself; the opposition parties were to boycott debate in the chamber, it means that bills passed in the DPJ-controlled House of Representatives cannot be enacted.
The Senate has censured two Prime Ministers in recent decades that of Paul Keating and John Howard.
In the UK The Crown cannot be prosecuted for breaches of the law even where it has no exemption, such as from the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act. A Crown Censure is the method by which the Health and Safety Executive records, but for Crown immunity, there would be sufficient evidence to secure a H&S conviction against the Crown.
Censure is the public reprimanding of a public official for inappropriate conduct or voting behavior; when the president is censured, it serves only as a condemnation and has no direct effect on the validity of presidency, nor are there any other particular legal consequences. Unlike impeachment, censure has no basis in the Constitution or in the rules of the Senate and House of Representatives, it derives from the formal condemnation of either congressional body of their own members.
To date, Andrew Jackson is the only sitting President to be successfully censured, although his censure was subsequently expunged from official records. James K Polk was also censured by the House of Representatives in 1848.
On 2 December 1954, Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy from Wisconsin was censured by the United States Senate for failing to cooperate with the subcommittee that was investigating him, and for insults to the committee that was trying to censure him.
On 10 June 1980, Democratic Representative Charles H. Wilson from California was censured by the House of Representatives for "financial misconduct", as a result of the "Koreagate" scandal of 1976. "Koreagate" was an American political scandal involving South Koreans seeking influence with members of Congress. An immediate goal seems to have been reversing President Richard Nixon's decision to withdraw troops from South Korea, it involved the KCIA (now the National Intelligence Service) funneling bribes and favors through Korean businessman Tongsun Park in an attempt to gain favor and influence. Some 115 members of Congress were implicated.
On 20 July 1983, Representatives Dan Crane, a Republican from Illinois, and Gerry Studds, a Democrat from Massachusetts, were censured by the House of Representatives for their involvement in the 1983 Congressional page sex scandal.
On 12 July 1999, the U.S. House of Representatives censured (in a 355-to-0 vote) a scientific publication titled "A Meta-analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples", by Bruce Rind, Philip Tromovich, and Robert Bauserman; (see Rind et al. controversy) which was published in the American Psychological Association's "Psychological Bulletin (July 1998).
On 13 October 2009, the mayor of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Bob Ryan was censured due to a YouTube video that showed him making sexually vulgar comments about his sister-in-law taken at a bar on a cell phone; the censure was voted 15-0 by the Sheboygan Common Council. His powers were also quickly reduced by the Common Council, and he was ultimately removed from office 2 1/2 years later in a recall election for continued improprieties in office.
In November 2009, members of the Charleston County Republican party censured Republican Senator Lindsey Graham from the state of South Carolina; the censure was in response to his voting to bail out banks and other Wall Street firms and for his sentiments on immigration overhaul and cap-and-trade climate change legislation.
On 2 December 2010, Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel from the state of New York was censured after an ethics panel found he violated House rules, specifically failing to pay taxes on a villa in the Dominican Republic, improperly soliciting charitable donations, and running a campaign office out of a rent-stabilized apartment meant for residential use.
On 4 January 2010, members of the Lexington County Republican Party censured Senator Lindsey Graham from the state of South Carolina for his support of government intervention in the private financial sector and for “debasing” longstanding Republican beliefs in economic competition.
On 16 August 2017, a group of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bill to try to censure President Donald Trump (thus far, it has not moved forward) in the aftermath of the Charlottesville 2017 Unite the Right rally.
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In Catholic theology, a theological censure is a doctrinal judgment by which the church stigmatizes certain teachings detrimental to faith or morals.
- "censure" – via The Free Dictionary.
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- Peter Hamby CNN Political Producer (7 July 2009). "South Carolina GOP votes to censure Sanford". CNN.com. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
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- "Arizona GOP rebukes McCain for not being conservative enough". CNN. 26 January 2014.
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- "Code of Canon Law - IntraText". Archived from the original on 29 March 2008.
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