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A censure is an expression of strong disapproval or harsh criticism.[1] 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.


  • Politics 1
    • Canada 1.1
    • Japan 1.2
    • Australia 1.3
    • United States 1.4
      • Explanation and use 1.4.1
      • Procedure 1.4.2
      • Chronology 1.4.3
  • Roman Catholic Church 2
    • Canon law 2.1
    • Theological censure 2.2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


In politics, a censure is an alternative to more serious measures against misconduct or dereliction of duty.[2][3]

Requires second? Yes
Debatable? Yes
Amendable? Yes
Vote required Majority


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.

Louis Riel faced Parliamentary censure for his role in the Red River Rebellion, and was expelled from Parliament April 16, 1874.[4]


In Japan a censure motion is a motion than 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 April 20, 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,[5] 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 June 4, 2012 Noda reshuffled his cabinet and replaced Tanaka and Maeda.[6]

On August 28, 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.[7]



  • The dictionary definition of censure at Wiktionary
  • "Theological Censures"Catholic Encyclopedia

External links

  1. ^ American Heritage Dictionary of the English language
  2. ^ Robert, Henry M. (2000). Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 10th ed., p. 642 (RONR)
  3. ^ a b Demeter, George (1969). Demeter's Manual of Parliamentary Law and Procedure, Blue Book, p. 260 (Demeter)
  4. ^ Murray Brewster (February 3, 2010). "".  
  5. ^ The Japan Times Censure motions passed on ministers April 21, 2012 Retrieved on August 29, 2012
  6. ^ The Asahi Shimbun Noda gets rid of censured Cabinet ministers June 4, 2012 Retrieved on August 29, 2012
  7. ^ The Wall Street Journal Japan's Prime Minister Hit With Censure Motion August 29, 2012 Retrieved on August 29, 2012
  8. ^
  9. ^ RONR, p. 333
  10. ^ Demeter, p. 261
  11. ^ RONR, pp. 642-643
  12. ^ RONR, p. 436
  13. ^ Demeter, p. 263
  14. ^ Demeter, p. 264
  15. ^ "U.S. Senate: Art & History Home > Historical Minutes > 1801-1850 > Senate Censures President". Retrieved 2006-04-01. 
  16. ^ Committee on Standards of Official Conduct
  17. ^ "Skeptical Inquirer" Vol.24, No.1 Jan/Feb 2000 p20,1 Kenneth K. Berry & Jason Berry "The Congressional Censure of a Research Paper: Return of the Inquisition?"
  18. ^ Neil A. Lewis (2007-08-01). "Retired General is Censured for Role in Tillman Case". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-08. 
  19. ^ Peter Hamby CNN Political Producer (2009-07-07). "South Carolina GOP votes to censure Sanford". Retrieved 2009-12-15. 
  20. ^ [2]
  21. ^ a b Phillips, Kate (January 5, 2010). "Senator Graham Censured Again". The New York Times. 
  22. ^ "Arizona GOP rebukes McCain for not being conservative enough". CNN. January 26, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Efren Carrillo faces colleagues, critics at Board of Supervisors meeting". PressDemocrat. May 6, 2014. 
  24. ^ Code of Canon Law, canon 1312
  25. ^ (Paulist Press 2002 ISBN 978-0-8091-4066-4), p. 1534New Commentary on the Code of Canon LawJohn P. Beal, James A. Coriden, Thomas J. Green (editors),
  26. ^ Code of Canon Law, canons 1331-1335
  27. ^ Modern Catholic DictionaryJohn Hardon,
  28. ^ 1908Catholic EncyclopediaJoseph Sollier, "Theological Censures" in
  29. ^ Pierre W. Whalon, Review of "Grace and Necessity" by Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams


See also

  1. A proposition is branded heretical when it goes directly and immediately against a revealed or defined dogma, or dogma de fide; erroneous when it contradicts only a certain (certa) theological conclusion or truth clearly deduced from two premises, one an article of faith, the other naturally certain.
  2. A proposition is ambiguous when it is worded so as to present two or more senses, one of which is objectionable; captious when acceptable words are made to express objectionable thoughts; evil-sounding when improper words are used to express otherwise acceptable truths; offensive when verbal expression is such as rightly to shock the Catholic sense and delicacy of faith.
  3. In the third category fall Subsannativa religionis (derisive of religion), decolorativa canodris ecclesiæ (defacing the beauty of the Church), subversiva hierarchiæ (subversive of the hierarchy), eversiva regnorum (destructive of governments), scandelosa, perniciosa, periculosa in moribus (scandalous, pernicious, dangerous to morals), blasphema, idolatra, superstisiosa, magica (blasphemous, leading to idolatry, superstition, sorcery), arrogans, acerba (arrogant, harsh), etc. This enumeration, though incomplete, sufficiently draws the aim of the third group of censures; they are directed against such propositions as would imperil religion in general, the Church's sanctity, unity of government and hierarchy, civil society, morals in general, or the virtue of religion, Christian meekness, and humility in particular.

Specific theological censures are divided into three groups according as they bear principally upon (1) the import, or (2) the expression, or (3) the consequences, of condemned propositions.

That they are directed at teachings distinguishes them from canonical censures, which are spiritual punishments imposed on people.

A theological censure is a doctrinal judgment by which a Church stigmatizes certain teachings detrimental to faith or morals.[27][28][29]

Theological censure

The ecclesiastical censures are excommunication and interdict, which can be imposed on any member of the Church, and suspension, which only affects clerics.[26]

In canon law, a censure is a medicinal penalty[24] imposed primarily for the purpose of breaking contumacy and reintegrating the offender in the community.[25]

Canon law

This article is part of the series:
Legislation and Legal System of the Catholic Church

Roman Catholic Church

On May 6, 2014, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors censured Democrat board member Efren Carrillo after refusing to resign after his testimony in his peeking trial. Carrillo testified that he had broken open a woman's screen window at 3am wearing only his underwear in an attempt to have sex with the victim.[23]

On January 22, 2013, The Arizona Republican Party censured longtime Sen. John McCain for what it called his “long and terrible” record of voting with liberal Democrats.[22]

On January 4, 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.[21]

On December 2, 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.

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 bailout banks and other Wall Street firms and for his sentiments on immigration overhaul and cap-and-trade climate change legislation.[21]

On October 13, 2009, Mayor of Sheboygan, WI 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.[20] The censure was voted 15-0 by the Sheboygan Common Council.

On July 6, 2009, Republican South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford was censured by the state GOP executive committee for traveling overseas on tax payer funds to visit his mistress.[19]

On July 31, 2007, retired Army General Philip Kensinger was censured by The United States Army. The censure came after misleading investigators of the Pat Tillman death in 2004.[18]

On July 12, 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).[17]

On July 20, 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.[16]

On June 10, 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 December 2, 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.

To date, Andrew Jackson is the only sitting President to be successfully censured, although his censure was subsequently expunged from official records.[15]


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 resentment of your conduct at 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."[14]

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 of;[12] 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.[13] An officer being censured is not referred to by name in the motion, but simply as "the president," "the treasurer," etc.


For examples specific to the United States, see Censure in the United States.

More serious disciplinary procedures may involve fine, suspension, or expulsion. In some cases, the assembly may declare the chair vacant and elect a new chair; or a motion can be made to rescind the election of an officer.[11]

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.

[10] [9] The motion to censure 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."

Explanation and use

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.

United States


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