But Lardner also reveals, for the first time, information which is the by-product of the effort that he is making to complete a book on the history of pardons in the United States. Namely. Lardner reveals that he has discovered a clemency warrant (hereafter referred to as the "Lardner warrant") that was signed by George Washington much earlier than the first officially recorded clemency warrant by the State Department (April 15, 1794, to one David Blair). By State Department records, Washington waited 1,511 days before granting the first pardon. The Lardner warrant, however, was signed on February 28, 1791, only 669 days into the administration. We will discuss the ramifications of this finding elsewhere.
Lardner finds it "difficult" to understand why "someone who has taught constitutional law" is so "unwilling" to use the power that the Framers gave him. It is especially baffling since "a disproportionate number of federal prisoners are black" and "mandatory sentencing guidelines have left many of them with excessive sentences." Thus, argues Lardner, the president "has not only the power but also the responsibility to grant clemency when it is warranted." The piece ends as follows:
The White House has tried to explain the current foot-dragging by saying that the president has asked for an updated set of standards for granting clemency. While improvements could be made, the truth is that the standards are time-tested — and fine, at least, for handling most petitions. President Obama needs only to do his job.See complete editorial here.