Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Comment: Holder Makes (Some More) History

Today, the politics of "change" was further advanced when Bill Clinton's deputy attorney general (1997-2001) was confirmed as U.S. Attorney General. The confirmation was certainly historic, as Holder is the first individual promoted to the position after being part and parcel of several wildly controversial pardons. PardonPower does not contest that Mr. Holder brings considerable "experience" to the position. The concern is that, under Holder's leadership, the clemency program in the Department of Justice will continue to lose relevance, and wither on the vine, exactly as it did under Mr. Holder during the Clinton administration. The historic Marc Rich pardon and FALN terrorist pardons were egregious lapses in judgment by almost any standard, but the persistent neglect of the constitutional duty to pardon during the Clinton administration was equally historic, and disgraceful.

Now, years later, we simply have no indication whatsoever that Eric Holder (a former prosecutor and judge) understands that clemency is - or should be - a regular feature of our system of justice. We only have his assurances that he knew little or nothing about the controversial pardons he so well facilitated during the Clinton administration and that, when he was partially aware of what he was doing back then, he now wishes that he had asked a few more questions before making critical decisions.

As a result, sadly, it is easy - all too easy - to imagine very few pardons coming from the pen of President Obama in the next few years. And, it is just as easy to imagine the pardons that do land appearing in the month December (once again sending the signal that pardons are "gifts" - and you know how we all are when it comes to gift-giving) and at the end of the term (once again sending the signal that pardons are not the result of a fair, deliberative process but, instead, the byproduct of a last-minute crush where access to key players in the White House wins the day for persons of influence).

Today, hoping to finally redirect attention from his past and bask in the partisan, divisive rhetoric of last year's presidential campaign - back when he assuring those who asked that he had no interest whatsoever in being Attorney General - Mr. Holder promised to make the DOJ an apolitical zone wherein there is no "political favoritism." Once, during the recent hearings, he even promised that there would not be another Marc Rich! It is utterly amazing how low the bar can be when one party has the votes necessary to do whatever it wants, all the while celebrating the "making" of "history." It just might take a congressional hearing to stir the new Attorney General and, consequently, President Obama, to care about pardons.

No comments:

blogger templates | Make Money Online