Sunday, January 22, 2017

And Their Arguments Have Only Gotten Stronger ...

From: “Preparing the Pardon Power for the 21st Century.” 12 University of St. Thomas Law Review 446 (Issue 3, 2016).

"In 1919, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer’s Annual Report argued that his duties and responsibilities had “increased so greatly” that it became “practically impossible” to give clemency applications “the attention and thought” that they required. Palmer thus proposed the creation of a three member Pardon and Parole Board that would make recommendations to the president. Three years later, the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to President Harding calling for the creation of a “new agency” to process clemency applications. According to the Washington Post, the organization thought the Department of Justice was “unable” to “go into” cases in a proper manner because of its “organization,” its “other many duties,” and the dominant role of federal attorneys who conducted the prosecution. It is so unfortunate that reform-minded persons did not win the day on these fronts a long, long time ago.

Many have high hopes that President Obama will exercise the pardon power more generously before his term finally ends. It is quite unfortunate that he has not exhibited more interest to date. But here we are. Unfortunately, if he grants record numbers of pardons and commutations of sentence between now and the end of the term, it may cause as much harm as good so far as public perceptions of the pardon power are concerned. The recommendations outlined above would, if implemented, prevent future presidents from ever finding themselves in such a predicament."

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