Saturday, July 14, 2007

Libby Pardon and the Right

The following is a response to a writer on the right who has attempted, feebly to defend Bush's use of the pardon power to commute Libby's sentence:

I think that it would be a waste of time to spend much time on Mr. Ruckman's analysis, as opposed to his knowledge of pardoning anecdotes, which can be interesting or amusing, although besides the point with respect to this blog.

He repeats over and over points that are obvious to anyone versed in criminal procedure or constitutional law as though he had arrived at something everyone else is either disputing or has missed, i.e.:

the pardon power is grounded in the actual text of the Constitution; the pardon power cannot be restricted, in any way, by either the legislative or judicial branch; pardons .... on the other hand, can be granted for any reason; presidents do not need to give any reasons at all for a pardon.

This is all information of the painfully obvious sort and Ruckman refuses to acknowledge that most of the interest in the commutation by people in the criminal justice field is due to the fact that Bush derided the exact sentencing positions carefully espoused by Gonzalez and the Justice Department, as well as the Republicans in Congress, which will make it much harder for the GOP to advocate higher sentences in the future or to further restrict judicial discretion in sentencing.

Rather than deal with such likely real world aspects of the Bush commutation, Ruckman falls back on two limpless arguments, that all presidents have done it equally gracelessly and that there is nothing that Congress can do anyway, so there!

In fact, that are many statutory steps that Congress could take, even short of the obvious step of amending the constitution to remove or alter the pardon power or impeaching the president, to regulate the President's use of the pardon power. While none of these statutory steps could abolish the pardon power, they could make it plenty painful for the president in the event of corrupt use of the pardon power.

Ultimately, my goal is to see fewer people such as Scooter Libby in prison and thus, I approve of ample and considered use of the pardon power. The ultimate irony here is the people on the right who love this exercise of the pardon power but are loathe to see either it or the arguments Bush used in issuing it applied in any other contexts.

1 comment:

P.S. Ruckman, Jr. said...

My response to this post can be found here: