Monday, April 21, 2008

Watch List: Canada on Black

Our friends to the north are having a time with the pardon power as exercised in the United States. A recent article in the Gazette reads:

Finally, there is the Globe and Mail theory that [Conrad] Black could be granted a presidential pardon. However, in the United States Black is a non-resident alien. Nobody in the White House or Justice Department owes him anything.

Quite the contrary. The fraud and obstruction of justice conviction came with a hefty price tag - about $500 million in law enforcement time, investigations, legal fees, fines and insurance payouts, not to mention more than $1.5-billion in shareholder losses.

And above all, how can a pardon be granted to someone who acknowledges no responsibility for his conviction? In a landmark 1915 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court held that accepting a pardon is an admission of guilt.
The notion that pardons are only granted to persons who can demand them as repayment is fun enough, but the President can clearly grant a pardon to Black regardless of whether or not Black "acknowledges" responsibility for his conviction. The Gazette might recall Bill Clinton's pardon of Henry Flipper, who acknowledged no guilt and did not accept the pardon (Flipper died in 1940). Not to mention the fact that Bush could also commute Black's sentence, regardless of whether of not Black "acknowledges" anything. In sum, it is important to remember that there is no constitutional right to stay in federal prison. This topic is dicussed in more detail at the Pardon for Scooter Libby? blog in these posts: Pardon and Guilt and Pardon and Guilt II. To see the full Gazette article, click here.

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