Showing posts with label Jackson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jackson. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Obama and Other Multiple Term Presidents

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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Obama is No Nixon (or Eisenhower)

White House counsel W. Neil Eggleston - and others in the White House - are want to compare President Obama's record on clemency favorably (after almost two full years of zero pardons and commutations of sentence) to the least merciful presidents. Even then, the focus of such "analyses" is but one dimension of clemency (commutations, not pardons). We imagine there are other, less awkward and more enlightening reference points: such as presidents who have, like Obama, have served more than one term:

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Fortunately, Mr. Eggleston, who recently presided over an organizational framework which completely excluded the U.S. Pardon Attorney from communication with the Office of White House Counsel - even when the Deputy Attorney General deep-sixed recommendations for clemency - has told Politico that, in the last months of the administration, the “infrastructure is now very much in place” to file and process clemency petitions and we are all "going to start seeing a lot more very quickly" and "on a more regular basis."

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Jackson v. Obama: Two Democratic Visions of Clemency

Although he had far fewer (literally thousands fewer) clemency applications coming his way, the first Democratic president, Andrew Jackson (1829-1837), granted almost twice as many pardons and commutations of sentence as President Obama has to date.

Jackson granted his first pardon only 14 days into his presidency. Obama waited 682 days, the longest wait of any Democrat president in history. Jackson then proceeded to grant clemency regularly, almost every single month of his two terms in office (hence the steadily increasing blue line all of the way across the chart, below). Jackson passed the 100 mark for grants just before the beginning of his third year in office. Obama did not pass that mark until well after seven years.

It is clear that, from start to finish, Jackson recognized the importance of his constitutional duty to participate in our system of checks and balances. He did not take the position that the president should be a silent, motionless, helpless by-stander in the institutional approximation of justice.

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President Obama, on the other hand, has been content - even after an exceptionally long initial delay - to go for months and months without granting a single pardon or commutation of sentence (hence the extended plateaus in the red line, above).

It is our hope that, one day, there will be change. We hope that the apparatus for processing pardon applications will be moved back out of the Department of Justice (it has not always been there) and into the Executive Office of the President - by executive order, if necessary. We hope, further, that presidents, both Democrats and Republicans, will adopt the view of Andrew Jackson and, frankly, most presidents throughout history.

The pardon power was not placed in the Constitution to be neglected, or abused. It should be a regular feature of the presidency - as it was throughout most of our history - because 1) convictions are a regular part of our criminal justice system 2) judges, prosecutors and legislators are not perfect 3) the need for second chances does not end 4) debts to society are payed and 5) rehabilitation happens. Pardons should not be an after-thought, or last-minute stunt.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

On Presidents, Pirates and Pardons

Presidents have understood the potential foreign policy / international benefits of the pardon power at least since April 25, 1793, when George Washington pardoned one Joseph Ravara out of "sentiments of respect" for the Republic of Geneva. Two hundred sixteen years and a few days later, the mother of Abduhl Wali-i-Musi is calling on President Barack Obama to pardon her teenage son, who is about to be tried for piracy. Notwithstanding the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, it does not appear to be the best time in history to be facing such a charge.

John Adams pardoned the first pirate, George Rice, in May of 1800 (for "the public good"), but, in the catalogue of pardoned pirates, the popularity contest is easily won by Jean LaFitte and the Baratarian Pirates. Researching LaFitte (and his brother) is an excellent exercise in myth, legend, lore and - somewhere in there - fact. There appears to be agreement, however, that he was prone to sea sickness and stayed on shore as much as possible. General Andrew Jackson was appalled that the government would call upon the LaFitte (played by Yule Brenner in The Buccaneer) and Baratarian Pirates to assist in the Battle of New Orleans. But the self-righteous disposition of the future president gave way, soon enough, to expediency and, as a reward, President James Madison granted the Baratarians a general pardon. Unfortunately, Madison's grant was premised upon "sincere penitence" and, well, there was no such thing in the mix. So, it wasn't long before the government went right back to hanging Baratarian Pirates en masse and cannon-blasting their island headquarters.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Context: Amnesties (or Blanket Pardons)

Washington - July 10 1795, Whiskey Insurrectionists
Adams - May 21 1800, Pennsylvania Insurrectionists (Fries Rebellion)
Jefferson - October 15 1807, Military deserters (if surrendered in 4 months)
Madison - February 7 1812, Military deserters (if surrendered in 4 months)
Madison - October 8 1812, Military deserters (if surrendered in 4 months)
Madison - June 14 1814, Military deserters (if surrendered in 4 months)
Madison - February 6 1815, Pirates participating in War of 1812
Jackson - June 12 1830, Military deserters discharged, those confined released
Buchanan - April 6, 1858, Utah uprising
Lincoln - February 14 1862, Political prisoners paroled
Lincoln - March 10 1863, Military deserters restored with only forfeiture of pay
Lincoln - December 8 1863, “Rebellion” participants (with exceptions) subject to oath
Lincoln - February 26 1864, Military deserters sentences mitigated, restored to duty
Lincoln - March 26 1864, Clarification of December 8, 1863, amnesty
Lincoln - March 11 1865, Military deserters (if returned to post in 60 days)
Johnson - May 29 1865, Certain rebels of Confederate States
Johnson - May 4 1866, Clarification of previous amnesty
Johnson - July 3 1866, Military deserters restored with only forfeiture of pay
Johnson - September 7 1867, Confederates (excepting certain officers) subject to oath
Johnson - July 4 1868, Confederates (except those indicted for treason or felony)
Johnson - December 25 1868, Confederates (universal and unconditional)
Harrison - January 4 1893, Mormons practicing polygamy
Cleveland - September 25 1894, Mormons practicing polygamy
T. Roosevelt - July 4 1902, Philippine insurrectionists, subject to oath
Wilson - June 14 1917 5,000, Persons under suspended sentences
Wilson - August 21 1917, Clarification, reaffirmation of June 14 amnesty
Coolidge - December 15 1923, Espionage Act
Coolidge - March 5 1924, Over 100 military deserters. Restoration of citizenship.
F. Roosevelt - December 23 1933, Over 1,500 who violated Espionage or Draft laws.
Truman - December 24 1945, Thousands of ex-convicts serving at least 1 year in war
Truman - December 23 1947, 1,523 draft evaders (recommended by Amnesty Board)
Truman - December 24 1952, Convicts serving armed forces at least 1 year since 1950
Truman - December 24 1952, Military deserters convicted between 1945 and 1950
Ford - September 16 1974, Vietnam draft evaders. Conditioned on public service
Carter - January 21 1977, Vietnam draft evaders. Unconditional pardon

* For additional updating / commentary on this list, contact the Editor of this blog.
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