HEADLINE: Judicial Watch Sues Justice Department for Records on Obama's Massive Effort to Grant Clemency to Criminals: Uh, yes, historically, pardons have been granted to persons who have committed crimes. Obama Administration Unprecedented Clemency Initiative Yes, this is the first time in history that a president, named "Obama" has taken an interest in clemency. But sleezy media shock effect of the use of the word "unprecedented" doesn't go much further. Our guess is that the person who wrote this could not comment - intelligently - for 30 minutes on the history of the pardon power. Could Free More Than 20,000 Convicted Felons From Federal Prisons
... The Clemency Project supports an initiative announced by the DOJ in April that would empower President Obama to grant mass clemency to as many as 20,000 convicted felons now serving time for drug-related sentences. BS flag must be thrown. The Constitution of the United States empowers the president to grant pardons, not a DOJ announcement.
... On April 23, 2014, Deputy Attorney James Cole announced the Obama clemency initiative saying it would encourage federal inmates sentenced under what he termed "out-of-date laws" Both Democrats and Republicans, in the House and the Senate considered the laws "out of date" and cemented their opinions by passing news laws which overturned them to petition to have their sentences "commuted, or reduced, by the President of the United States." the power of commutation having been exercised - in effect, or explicitly - by every president since the administration of George Washington The clemency initiative is part of the Obama administration's effort to end alleged racial discrimination in drug-related sentences. It started with the 2010 signing of the Fair Sentencing Act, which for the first time in decades relaxed drug-crime sentences. The measure severely weakened a decades-old law enacted during the crack cocaine epidemic that ravaged urban communities nationwide in the 1980s. Are we to infer that Judicial Watch does not believe Congress has the power to write laws?
... In announcing the administration's clemency initiative, Cole acknowledged the role of "numerous groups and individual attorneys" who had been working with DOJ to free the convicted drug offenders: Yes, it is true, no one can free those who have not been convicted, and imprisoned.
... Cole's statement also included an announcement that DOJ Pardon Attorney Ron Rodgers had abruptly resigned his position. "Abruptly" - but only if you are as poorly informed as the writer of this announcement. Rodgers had been the focus of sharp criticism for years. Many were mystified as to why Obama retained him to begin with. He was, after all, George W. Bush's appointee. Judicial Watch may be aware that, as a candidate, Mr. Obama was sharply critical of both Mr. Bush and federal drug sentencing laws. In addition, as most informed persons are aware, in recent years, presidents have generally selected their own person for this position. Of course, Judicial Watch knows zip about all of that. Though Cole characterized the Rodgers resignation as "in the tradition" of senior executive service attorneys who ask for reassignment, there was some indication that it may have come about as a result of Rodger's disagreement with the Obama clemency initiative. Rodgers, who is known for his opposition to clemency requests Did Judicial Watch just say a former pardon attorney was "known for his opposition to clemency requests?" Wow! There's a stellar qualification for the position! Alexander Hamilton argued, in the Federalist Papers, that there should be "easy" access to mercy. But, somehow, we had a pardon attorney "known for his opposition to clemency requests." Did Judicial Watch investigate that guy? Why not? was replaced by Deborah Leff, who worked with the Access to Justice Initiative, a DOJ agency aiding low-income defendants in court. According to the liberal publication The American Prospect: "For those hoping to see a robust clemency push, her background bodes well." According to the American publication, the Federalist Papers, "easy access" would be good.
Historically, the power to reduce sentences and grant pardons has been used on a case-by-case basis. True, but stupid, at least if, by saying "historically," the author means "most of the time." It is true that most exercises of the pardon power have been individual acts of clemency. But it is no less true that group pardons (or amnesties) are also a great American tradition, dating back to the Washington administration. See our post on numerous other mass clemencies by several presidents here. During his presidency, George W. Bush granted only 11 sentence commutations, while Bill Clinton granted a total of 61. LBJ granted over 200. For considerable portions of American history, presidents granted more commutations than they did pardons. What's the point? Robert Weisberg, a law professor at Stanford University and co-director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center, questions whether the Obama clemency move rightly falls under the Executive Branch, Nothing personal, but we are aware of no scholarship by Prof. Weisberg on the subject of clemency "Although it's being done through the pardon power, it really is a kind of administrative action to make some of the newer laws retroactive...It's almost as if they have to invent their own kind of shadow sentencing guidelines and in effect re-sentence certain people." How silly. The project is not sentencing anyone. The persons that they seek to help have already been sentenced.
Certain members of Congress are also balking at the Obama clemency initiative, with Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), stating, "While the pardon power has been interpreted broadly, the Framers never intended for it to be used in this manner. Rather, they intended for it to be used on a limited, case-by-case basis to correct injustice, not to be a tool for the administration to rewrite or even eliminate laws passed by Congress." Re the pardon power, Senator Sessions is a blithering idiot. He cannot support his position with a postage stamp's worth of evidence from the "Founding Fathers." Thomas Jefferson - considered by many to be a Founding Father - thought the Alien Sedition Acts were unconstitutional. He promised, if elected, to pardon anyone who was still being punished by them. He kept his promise and emptied the prisons. We repeat: Sessions is an idiot. Thankfully, when George Washington dealt with the Whiskey Rebellion and John Adams dealt with Fries's Rebellion, fools like Sessions were not in the U.S. Senate. Someone buy the man a high school history book before he forms his next stupid opinion!