Sunday, December 7, 2008

Kathleen Dean Moore on the Pardon Power

Kevin McDermott of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch scores lots of points with PardonPower for chasing down the likes of Kathleen Dean Moore, author of Pardon: Justice, Mercy and the Public Interest (1989), before writing about pardons. Moore describes the law as a "broad brush" while the pardoning power is a "fine instrument." She also agrees that, over the years, "We've seen some shocking abuses of presidential pardons." McDermott's piece then goes on to provide some examples of notable pardons, but it is not altogether clear that the list would constitute a list of abuses from Moore's perspective.

The piece slumps into the seemingly obligatory Ford-Nixon is the "granddaddy of all controversial presidential pardons," but the routine is tempered by Moore's observation that
... Nixon's pardon, as controversial as it was, actually tracks closely to what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they created the pardon power. They viewed it, she said, as something that should be used to address those rare situations in which the unyielding pursuit of justice in a specific case isn't the best thing for society as a whole. "There are times when it's really in the interest of the public … to say, as Ford said, let's just get on with it," said Moore.
Oh for a few hundred more articles with that kind of information in them! With respect to the potential release of former Illinois Governor George Ryan, Moore notes, "Very often, punishment imposed on a person punishes other people more," so using such considerations as the basis for pardon would "empty the jails." See complete article here.

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