Friday, April 9, 2010

Odd Call for Obama Pardons

Kenneth Lee, former associate counsel to George W. Bush, has written a piece at the National Law Journal calling on President Obama to use the pardon power. Lee refers to Justice Kennedy's commentary on the lack of commutations of sentence - a feature of the Court's oral argument last week, just after someone from the Supreme Court visited this very blog (and this particular post) for ten minutes.

Oddly, Lee says Obama's "inaction" is "understandable" because it seems "there are substantial political liabilities but no real short-term benefits in issuing pardons" - something certainly not true for the vast majority of pardons granted over the last 5 decades.

Nonetheless, Lee says Obama should "not hesitate or further delay exercising this power with vigor." Why? "Mandatory minimum" sentencing and the abolition of federal parole have made pardons more necessary. Pardons can help individuals "whose career options may be severely limited due to the stain of a criminal conviction." And finally, "successful businesspersons often seek pardons because they provide something that money cannot buy: an official recognition by the president of the United States that they have repaid their debts."

The obvious question follows: where in the heck was this guy during the first 699 days of the administration of George W. Bush, when zero pardons and commutations of sentence were granted? Is he even aware that Bush was the second slowest president in history to exercise the pardon power? No, it is not the usual defense of pardons. But, it is something! The places (and spaces) that a title will get you! See article here.

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