Thursday, May 29, 2008

Campaign 08: McCain and the Pardon Power

Over at Sentencing Law and Policy, there is commentary on Scott McClellan's new book, Scooter Libby and John McCain's views on things. I had actually started a post on McCain and the pardon power back in February and just never got around to proofing it up. This might be the time to let it out. Here is what I came up with:

* On January 26, 2001, Senator John McCain called Bill Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich "a disgrace." But, then again, who didn't? I mean, other than Mrs Clinton - whose obfuscations can be enjoyed here.

* On July 17, 2004, McCain announced that he would join others in order to pursue a posthumous pardon for legendary boxer Jack Johnson, who violated the Mann Act in 1913. McCain believes Johnson "was an incredible athlete" who "made significant inroads for other African-American athletes" and that the "use of a law was perverted" when it sent such a "decent American to jail."

* On January 9, 2007, McCain was non-commital with respect to a possible presidential pardon for Scooter Libby, but said that he would give it "careful consideration" if prison time were in the mix. On March 6, 2007, McCain had no comment on Libby's conviction. Afterward, on June 6, 2007, he continued to say that it was important to just "see what happens" in the Libby case.

* When the Libby commutation finally landed, July 3, 2007, McCain was asked if he had any comment. The response was a simple, "Nope." Then, two months later, on September 3, 2007, he accused President Bush of dodging a tough decision saying, "I’m very reluctant to second-guess, but I have to say I would have pardoned him or not pardoned him.” Anyone else see anything humorous about that quote?!

* Mike Huckabee, who appears to be under consideration as McCain's running mate noted, in January that, if he (Huckabee) were elected president, he would pardon U.S. Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean. Huckabee said he would make the pardon his "first act." But McCain has not taken a position on the agents to date. Maybe it is safe to say that McCain will either pardon, or not pardon, them!

Updated 5/31/08


Douglas said...

I wonder if McCain has or will say anyhting about pardons for the border agents.

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

EDITOR: A quick call to his U.S. Senate office got me something like this ... "It is an executive branch matter, not a legislative matter. The case is being prosecuted by the Justice Department. He is aware of it, and is following it, but has no opinion on it otherwise." I guess I would be interested in seeing if the same response would be given to an Arizona resident, in writing. But, there ya go.

Anonymous said...

It may have been a while ago, but McCain was one of the cosponsors of a resolution honoring "Shoeless Joe" Jackson on at least one occasion. (S. Res. 134, 1999) (Side note 1: While Shoeless Joe's House and Senate fans come mostly from South Carolina (His birthplace), Illinois (Home of the White Sox), and Iowa (Home of the "Field of Dreams"), he's had fans from a variety of places around the country, and from both sides of the aisle.) It may be possible that McCain may wish to pardon both Shoeless Joe and perhaps Buck Weaver as well. (This is only a guess on my part.)
There's also the issue of the acceptance of guilt that normally comes with a pardon. (This is lessened if you're deceased, though...)

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