Thursday, January 5, 2017

Creepy Cloud of Error / Ignorance in the Air

Recently, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show and said the granting of a pardon is “an individual decision that’s made on a case-by-case basis.” Consequently, “There’s no legal framework or regulatory framework that allows for a pardon of a group en masse,” The statement was, of course, a preposterous blunder. Amnesties and group pardons are a great American tradition.

While the blunder could have been spun as the by-product of context (being tied to the reasonable conclusion that an amnesty, or group pardon, would not be appropriate for so-called "Dreamers," seeking citizenship), Lynch, at the a POLITICO Playbook breakfast event, went on to tie the error to the possibility of a "blanket clemency for drug offenders." Said Lynch:
We obviously have been doing a great deal of work on the president’s clemency initiative for several years now, and [I'm] very, very gratified [he] has taken the recommendation of the Department of Justice, although I will tell you he reviews every file himself. These are very individual decisions, ... When you’re talking about clemency, the same as with pardons, it’s a very individualized decision. I think it would be hard to craft a system for a blanket commutation of a class of people.
If an Attorney General has ever said something so erroneous / ignorant re the pardon power, we are not aware of it. It was certainly a bad sign for those with high hopes for thousands in our federal prisons.

Now comes a Harvard Law Review article by no less than the president of the United States. President Obama has written, "the Framers gave the President this authority to remedy individual cases of injustice" - which is patently false. He also writes that he "asked" his "team" to "look more systematically at how clemency could be used to address particularly unjust sentences in individual cases" - as if there were no other way, which is also patently false.

How is this madness even possible?

1 comment:

Peter T said...

Such ignorance at the highest level is regrettable. I'm not a legal expert, but know some group pardons in history, like Johnson's pardon of Confederate soldiers and Carter's pardon of Vietnam draft dodgers.

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