Friday, November 4, 2016

72 Commutations 4 Days Before an Election. Normal?

Today, President Obama granted 72 commutations of sentence, just 4 days before the presidential election. It seems to us - at least on the surface - that what we have argued for so long was/is correct: he has more political capital to exercise the pardon power than any president in our lifetime. Why he waited so long to do so has always been a mystery. On the other hand, the paucity of pardons in recent administrations - and even smaller numbers of commutations of sentence - has often been explained in terms of presidential fear, or a hesitancy resulting from an environment hostile to the pardon power.

Interesting stuff, but how do Obama's pre-election grants look in terms of historical data?

We gathered preliminary data from over 100 years of presidential elections. We find that, in the 28 terms covered by the data, presidents averaged a distance of 87 days between Election Day and their last grant(s) of clemency. When was the last time grants were made a few as 4 days before the election? 1940, Franklin Roosevelt. When was the last time someone made grants less than 4 days before the election?  1928, Calvin Coolidge. Notably, in the administrations before Eisenhower (roughly half of the chart), presidents rarely ever went a full month without granting at least one pardon or commutation of sentence.

How do President Obama's 72 commutations compare? No other president granted as many, or even granted as many as 60 or 50. Only Jimmy Carter crossed 40, and that was 138 days before an election. Consequently, on average, the previous presidents, on average, granted a mere 9 pardons or commutations of sentence before the upcoming election.

President
Date of Most Proximate Clemency Grant(s)
Number of Grants
Date of Election
Distance Between Last Grant(s) and Election
T. Roosevelt (1)
10/30/1908
1
11/3/1908
4
Taft
10/28/1912
0
11/5/1912
8
Wilson (1)
11/6/1916
2
11/7/1916
1
Wilson (2)
11/2/1920
1
11/2/1920
0
Coolidge (1)
11/3/1924
1
11/4/1924
1
Harding / Coolidge
11/5/1928
2
11/6/1928
1
Hoover
11/3/1932
1
11/8/1932
5
F. Roosevelt (1)
10/19/1936
1
11/3/1936
15
F. Roosevelt (2)
11/1/1940
1
11/5/1940
4
F. Roosevelt (3)
10/14/1944
1
11/7/1944
24
F. Roosevelt (4) / Truman
10/4/1948
1
11/2/1948
29
Truman (1)
10/25/1952
3
11/4/1952
10
Eisenhower (1)
9/28/1956
8
11/6/1956
39
Eisenhower (2)
10/13/1960
37
11/8/1960
26
Kennedy / LBJ
10/22/1964
1
11/3/1964
12
LBJ
6/22/1968
1
11/5/1968
136
Nixon (1)
8/11/1972
1
11/7/1972
88
Nixon (2) / Ford
9/1/1976
28
11/2/1976
62
Carter
6/19/1980
41
11/4/1980
138
Reagan (1)
7/16/1984
3
11/6/1984
113
Reagan (2)
9/20/1988
3
11/8/1988
49
H.W. Bush
7/5/1991
12
11/3/1992
487
Clinton (1)
8/21/1995
1
11/5/1996
442
Clinton (2)
10/20/2000
7
11/7/2000
18
W. Bush (1)
7/6/2004
2
11/2/2004
119
W. Bush (2)
3/24/2008
16
11/4/2008
225
Obama (1)
10/26/2011
1
11/6/2012
377
Obama (2)
11/4/2016
72
11/8/2016
4

9
87

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My question is where are the pardons. The President said himself in a interview that he would grant as many pardons as his predecessors.
He has roughly 80-90 pardons to grant just to come close to Bush. I want to believe it I just don't see it happening. ..but who knows

blogger templates | Make Money Online