Sunday, June 21, 2009

Obama: Mercy or Death?

153 days into his administration, Barack Obama has not granted a single pardon or commutation of sentence. As one of the slowest presidents in history to exercise clemency, he will soon be passing Eisenhower and George H.W. Bush and find himself in the company of Nixon, Clinton and George W. Bush. Now, what do those three have in common? Hmmm ...

However, Josh Gerstein of reports Obama may "soon confront one of the most weighty and unsavory decisions that a chief executive must make, whether to put a murder convict to death." Gerstein reports there are 57 men and women on federal "death row" and the progress of some of their cases through the federal courts may soon result in their individual fates being in the hands of the president.

As a former office holder and candidate, Obama has sided with majority opinion on the death penalty. But his rhetoric often crumbles in the wake of practice and, well, that was then and this is now. Gerstein also notes death penalty opponents hope at least some possibility for "reform" may exist via the presence of Eric Holder as Attorney General. There were no executions in Bill Clinton's eight years as president and, according to Gerstein, the execution of Timothy McVeigh (Bush) was the first execution in the federal system in nearly four decades. For more details, see full story here.

1 comment:

Marie said...

Professor Ruckman: I wonder if sometime you could give us your opinion on the matter of everyday citizens writing letters to the president in support of a commutation or pardon or clemency. These would be people outside the legal and political system, and outside the family. Is it a good idea, or a waste of time? If it's a good idea, any pointers you could give would be much appreciated. Thank you.

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