Friday, December 5, 2008

L.A. Times "Rules" for Pardons

A December 3rd L.A. Times editorial is coaching President Bush on the use of the pardon power in the final days of the administration. Along the way, there is even something like an attempt to lay down rules for pardons (something the Times did not do for President Clinton - even after the FALN pardons):
The pardon power is designed to redress injustices the judicial system is unable to remedy or ... to restore domestic tranquillity. If Bush wants to spare himself the obloquy rightly visited on Clinton, he will say no to any pardon based on partisanship ... powerful connections ... populist propaganda ... or celebrity. The pardon power also shouldn't be used to indemnify lawbreaking in the cause of the president's policies ... What matters is that Bush reject the Clinton precedent and say no to claimants who seek mercy on the basis of whom they know -- or worked for.
This is refreshing commentary which deserves attention. First, think of all of the notable pardons that would not have been granted under these guidelines! It also seems to ignore the legitimate use of pardons in a system of checks and balances, where the president simply disagrees with congress and the courts and uses his constitutional powers to address those points of disagreement. It isn't a matter of being right or wrong or having the law on your side. You just have a different point of view. That's all. And why all of this picking on Clinton? Doesn't the L.A. Times remember Jimmy Carter's late term pardon of Peter Yarrow and Frederic Ingrahm?

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