Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Comment: Scholars Simply Not on Board

Jason Cato of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has written a piece which essentially highlights something which every observer of the pardon really should be aware of, namely this, persons who study the pardon power seriously, "scholars" let's say, simply are not on board with the fantastic speculation of the President's critics who are flooding the web with "editorials" and chatter about unprecedented, preemptive pardons for every Republican guilty of "war crimes" (Democrats are always ignored in the analysis - which, of course, says something in and of itself). Some even "expect" that Bush will resign on January 19 and let Dick Cheney pardon him. That's right, it "probably" will happen, so they "expect" it!

Look, it certainly is great fun to rip on the president (a great American tradition) and get to say "war crimes" at the same time. Indeed, it may be the next best thing to saying anything about politics and getting away with inserting Adolph Hitler's name along the way. But just in case you're interested in hearing from people who study pardons (as opposed to people who simply hate the president and are focusing on pardons because they happen to be in front of their nose right now), here is what is out there:

Cato's piece cites Margaret Colgate Love, a former U.S. Pardon Attorney (1990-1997), who says, "Based on President Bush's pardoning to date, I have no reason to think we will be in for any surprises at the end."

Louis Fisher, a noted Constitutional Law Scholar in the Library of Congress chuckled and called the specific scenarios discussed above the stuff of "science fiction."

When asked abut the potential for self-pardons or sweeping preemptive pardons at the end of the administration P.S. Ruckman, Jr. told California Public Radio, "I have yet to hear a single compelling reason to expect anything like that to happen."

George Lardner of the Washington Post, who is writing a book on presidential pardons told ABC News, "The preemptive pardon has been used in history, but if Bush sticks to his pasty stingy approach to pardons, he won't do it."

Scott Michaels of ABC News found himself writing this: "The president has virtually unchecked power to issue pardons and reprieves for federal crimes, except in cases of impeachment. Pardon experts said a blanket, preemptive pardon of members of the Bush administration would be unprecedented, and unlikely.

Indeed. See Cato's piece here.

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