Wednesday, March 10, 2010
President Obama has gone 414 days without granting a single pardon or commutation of sentence. He will soon pass the ever-popular John Adams (Mr. Alien Sedition Acts), and move into 3rd place, among the very slowest in history. Indeed, this seems very likely, if Obama intends to wait until December to act. Then it is simply a matter of whether or not he will be more negligent than Bush or Clinton.
Washington, incidentally, hardly deserves the same level of disappointment. The colonists had had their fill of the King's abuse of the pardon power and the President, under the Articles of Confederation, could pardon no one. Neither the Virginia Plan nor the New Jersey Plan (at the Constitutional Convention) contained a pardon power. The first draft of the Constitution had no such power either, until a single delegate, working as a committee member, scribbled it into the margin. On top of all of that, of course, is the fact that there were relatively few federal laws to violate, and few criminals for Washington to pardon.