Monday, January 5, 2015

Wisconsin: Walker, Still On Dumb

We have repeatedly noted that, while more than a few state governors are neglecting to use the pardon power, Scott Walker's neglect is particularly egregious because he has yet to - and, evidently, cannot - articulate anything like an intelligent, policy-based reason for it.

Initially, Walker launched the boiler-plate / sensationalist goo: it isn't right to "interfere" with the considered judgement of judges and juries. In addition to exhibiting cluelessness as to the constitutional role of executives in systems of separation of powers and checks and balances, Walker's gas ignored the fact that almost anyone can discover - with even an ounce of careless research: most (as in 90 plus percent) pardons (state and federal) do not interfere with, or overturn, the judgement of judges or juries, much less spring violent criminals from our prisons, launching them into our streets to rape and pillage fearful citizens, eager and ready to vote for law-and-order / John Wayne posers.

No - Scott Walker's blithe nonsense notwithstanding - pardons simply restore the civil rights of persons who have just about always committed minor / non-violent offenses, years (often decades) ago, have served their time (if they ever even had any to server) and have established themselves as law-abiding citizens. No one's judgement is being interfered with, much less overturned. If anything, the decision making of the criminal process is validated by pardon. A pardons says sentences were right, fair, just and enough!

As Walker's term progressed, predictably enough, notable instances of clemency applicants began to show up in media, cases where most reasonable persons would find themselves thinking, "Why shouldn't this person at least be considered for clemency." The answer was far from intuitive. Perhaps sensitive to the resulting awkwardness, Walker shifted the landscape by observing that, if a pardon is given to one clearly deserving person, then other deserving persons might step forward and desire clemency as well!

Scott Walker's Motto for Wisconsin?
God forbid Walker would act like an executive, in a system of separation of powers and checks and balances, exercising his constitutional power and something like a spark of justice would appear, maybe even take hold in Wisconsin! Not on Scott Walker's watch !

Now comes one Alan Talaga, writing for Isthmus. Talaga notes Walker "has declined using his executive power to pardon during his entire time in office" because, as Walker now explains (we're getting close to the next presidential election):
"What about all those other individuals who may not have an advocate but who have equally turned their lives around?" 
Talaga further explains (because, Lord knows, further explanation is certainly needed) that some persons who seek clemency "lack" anything like a "strong PR campaign" to support their applications. Talaga thinks Walker explanation is "actually right."

We think Walker is actually wrong and - once again - quite stupid.

If a famous person, with a great PR campaign, applies for a pardon, in a state, then the constitutionally created clemency process in that state is instantly infected? and should be shut down? entirely? immediately? If you are a deserving applicant ... too bad? Brilliant. Just brilliant.

Tough on Crime (America and
Common Sense
Notable clemency applications should have nothing whatsoever to do with the fair consideration of the many applications of those who may or may not be deserving of mercy. The purpose of the pardon process is not to show-case distribution of political ice cream for the sake of PR minded Scott Walker's popularity. If Walker cannot objectively weigh the merits of clemency applications of nameless, faceless persons - like governors all around him - why doesn't he just come out and say so - "I can't do it. I don't have that skill. It is my job, yes. It is what we do here in America. But, too bad. This is Wisconsin."

Some legislation is associated with highly organized PR campaigns, is it not? Maybe Walker should, therefore, veto all legislation, for the sake of fairness, to all? Yeah, if you are an idiot, you just might reach that conclusion.

Walker's latest rationalization (with apologies to persons more talented at that art), smells just as bad as the previous incarnations. He is not concerned about fairness. He should just end the charade and just say so, unequivocally. When writing about pardons in the Federalist papers, Alexander Hamilton argued there should be "easy access" to mercy. Scott Walker has a different view of America and constitutional government.

Scott Walker is concerned about posing. And what a site he is to see! See Talaga's piece here.

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