Friday, December 5, 2008

Watch List: Durbin's Record on Pardons

Joseph Ryan of the Daily Herald has written the best piece yet on Senator Dick Durbin's bizarro support for the commutation of former Governor George Ryan's prison sentence. It notes, among other things, that Durbin called Scooter Libby's commutation of sentence "a terrible message." Of course, in Durbin's mind the two cases are "dramatically different" and the commutation of Ryan's sentence has no "message."

The piece also observes that Senator Durbin lobbied for a commutation of sentence for U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds (D) - whose case was also dramatically different and, again, apparently had no "message"! Durbin also praised Bill Clinton's pardon of U.S. Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D) - no "message" available - and, in 2004, he asked President Bush to pardon soldiers from Ohio charged for failing to properly secure vehicles in Iraq. Ah, there is a "message!" Durbin was "supporting" our troops! These cases were all very, very different.

Why hasn't anyone asked Durbin if George Ryan has at last admitted to his guilt? Why did Durbin wait until the last minute to seek clemency on Ryan's behalf? Does Durbin see the pardon power as a last-minute tool for last-minute unreviewable favors, political and otherwise? See story here. For additional commentary on Congress and the pardon power, go here.

(Edited 12/6/08)

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