Sunday, November 24, 2013

Scott Walker: The Kind of Guy the Founding Fathers Despised

Casey J. Hoff, a criminal defense attorney in Wisconsin, has an editorial at The Cap Times, which observes Governor Scott Walker "is the first Wisconsin governor who has stated that he will not pardon a single person during his governorship" (although clarity on such important issues is not exactly Walker's forte). See our own take on all of this nonsense here.

Guided by his profound insight that "The only people seeking pardons are people who are guilty," Governor Walker has granted zero pardons since taking office in 2011. Nor has he appointed any members to the State's Pardon Advisory Board.

Hoff notes - as we have - that a Wisconsin pardon simply "restores a person’s rights lost due to a felony conviction." Consequently:
Pardoning a person in no way undermines the criminal justice system, unless the governor believes that the Wisconsin Constitution undermines it ... Pardoning is part and parcel of our system of justice, as it affords people who have reformed their lives a measure of justice that the courts cannot provide. In Wisconsin, a pardon does not erase a conviction. Instead, a pardon restores rights to a person, such as the rights to possess firearms, hold public office, become a police officer, and work in certain medical fields. 
Hoff also explores Walker's second "reason" for neglecting his duty as governor. Walker believes "courts have ways of dealing with people who are innocent." But, again, bringing it down to a level that even a third grader could understand, Hoff writes:
The point of a pardon, however, is not to say that the person being pardoned is innocent. Rather, pardons are an act by the governor to forgive a person for a past transgression in cases where the person has truly reformed and led an exemplary life since a felony conviction. By refusing to even consider pardoning anyone, Walker is putting aside an important constitutional power and missing an opportunity to give worthy, rehabilitated people a second chance. 
Hoff then summarizes the case of one Eric Pizer of Madison,  Marine-Combat veteran who was deployed twice deployed to the Middle East - the second time on a volunteer basis. Prizer led Marines into battle for our county and, now, wants to serve his community as a police officer." The only thing between him and a life of continued productivity and service is a punch that he threw, during a bar fight, almost a decade ago.

The Founding Fathers put the pardon power in the United States Constitution because they believed in separation of powers and checks and balances. From their English and Christian heritage, the took the basic notion that not all punishments are (should be) eternal. They believed there was a time for forgiving, redemption and recognition of rehabilitation. Thus, they included the pardon power in the very text of the Constitution to be used, not to be avoided at all costs (or out of convenience, or for political expediency).

In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton observed the criminal codes of nations have an almost natural tendency toward over-severity. Can anyone seriously disagree with that? So, Hamilton argued, there should be "easy access" to mercy.  That's right, "EASY ACCESS."

Imagine Scott Walker explaining to Alexander Hamilton that pardon applicants are "guilty!" Oh, the humanity! Someone with true, sincere, informed love for our Nation's founding / founders needs to primary Scott Walker. See Hoff's full editorial here.

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