Monday, July 6, 2009

Times Calls for Further Trivialization of Pardon Power

Overlooking the fact that the President has yet to grant a single pardon or commutation of sentence, the New York Times is calling for the record to be "set right" in the case of legendary boxer Jack Johnson. Johnson's critics are summarily dismissed as "racists" and "hypocrites" and proponents of "Jim Crow lynchings" in a "world of bigotry" etc.

What a grand thing this stand would be for the Times, but for the fact that Johnson is long dead (no fear of recidivism here) and his "pardon" would simply be the very worst sort of symbolic politics (great for self-righteous credit claiming members of Congress and of very little value in the real world - where Obama's clemency program has yet to show its face and is among the slowest to materialize in American history). Apparently, it is not enough that Congress infects its own resolution- and lawmaking-power with meaningless target group re-election candy. No, National Frisbee Day, National Boating Day, National Pi Day and Blame Someone Else Day are just not enough.

Why doesn't Congress pass a resolution calling on the President to exercise the pardon power on behalf of the living? Or maybe a resolution suggesting that, for every show-boat pardon of a dead person, 15 prisoners currently suffering under the weight of a ridiculous mandatory minimum sentence will be pardoned? Or maybe a resolution suggesting that, for every pardon of a dead person who did not even seek a pardon, 15 persons who have served their time and paid their debt to society and have drifted for years in the DOJ's pardon application backlog should also be pardoned? See full editorial here.

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