Blogs > Liberty and Power > Begging His Pardon

Nov 21, 2005 5:44 pm

Begging His Pardon

George W. Bush pardoned the Thanksgiving Turkey, and he may eventually pardon Scooter, but other than that, he's not very interested in the presidential power to pardon. Here's a piece I wrote on that topic that ran in the Legal Times recently. Excerpt:

It's unfortunate that it takes the indictment of a high-ranking White House official to remind Washington that the president has the"Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States." In an era in which the federal criminal justice system is becoming ever more centralized and punitive, there are many federal prisoners who are far better candidates for a pardon than I. Lewis"Scooter" Libby Jr. Yet they have gone unnoticed by a president whose exercise of the pardon power has been timid at best.

At the end of September, with no more fanfare than a Justice Department press release, President George W. Bush announced that he had pardoned 14 people. Most had received minor sentences and had served their time—if any—more than a decade ago.

This was in keeping with Bush's long-standing reluctance to pardon: The president issued 31 clemency orders in his first term, far fewer than those granted by his father or Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan. Indeed, along with the veto, the pardon seems to be the rare executive power that this president is reluctant to use....

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William Marina - 11/21/2005

Bush's small use of the pardon power reflects the feelings he had Gov. of Texas with respect to executions. Hang 'em high!