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  1. #1
    Senior Member Platinum Poster
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Default Presidential Pardons: Justice or Bad Law?

    I have not given a great deal of thought to this issue so would be interested to hear some views. What strikes me about the proposal to pardon Martha Stewart is not just that she broke the law -there is no miscarriage of justice here-, but that the rationale being given by the President is that she “used to be one of my biggest fans”. It seems to me this is fancy dress law not the real thing, a mockery of the justice system by a man who holds in low esteem anyway.

    By contrast, with Obama there were 1,715 official pardons and commutations of sentence, most of them for people already on probation and often for minor crimes, with a large number of commutations at the end of his Presidency issued because President Obama believed too many Americans were being incarcerated in prison for minor crimes, something that, as one would now expect, the new Attorney General John Sessions has put into reverse, locking people up may be his favourite sport.,_2010

    I can understand a pardon for someone who has been wrongly convicted, but in that case and the cases where someone can be imprisoned for 'mutilating a coin' a Presidential pardon is not the answer, changing the law and sentencing is.

    In the UK we have something called the Royal Prerogative of Mercy, that can be and has been used to pardon people convicted of serious crimes (paramilitaries involved in the conflict in Northern Ireland come to mind), but also pardons for convictions that took place as far back as the First World War -pardoning a soldier executed for cowardice- or the 1954 conviction of Alan Turing, which also led to an insert into the Policing and Crime Act of 2017 which expunged the convictions of gay men for crimes committed when Homosexuality was illegal (but does not include sex with minors).

    This to me is a nonsense, you cannot pardon Turing, because he is dead, and we have since changed the law because the law was stupid. But the fact is that when he was convicted Turing was a criminal, and we should in fact always recall that and not try to dismiss it as an aberration of the times, when there are elements in our society who would, if they could, make it illegal again. It is the difference between the moral judgement of Alan Turing, and the Legal judgement.

    And what about the million or more Black and Latino Americans with rap sheets that should be used for fancy dress? If pardoning, from a President or a Queen is to be just, who has the greatest need for justice? And will the President hear their case?

  2. #2
    Silver Poster
    Join Date
    Feb 2008

    Default Re: Presidential Pardons: Justice or Bad Law?

    This is a tough question. If it's misused, pardons can be given for political allies or in return for future political or personal favors. It can be used to cover up crimes for the President with the only remedy being impeachment, which if the President has committed serious crimes is already a worst outcome. I mean why wouldn't a President facing certain impeachment misuse a process that can only result in further grounds for impeachment?

    On the other hand, the President could pardon people who have been given unjustly harsh sentences or convicted on dubious evidence or subjected to selective prosecution. There is no doubt the process would be better if there were guidelines and oversight and some way of ensuring the decisions were made on merit rather than favoritism. The way the process operates now, giving total discretion to the President and no oversight or transparency, is far from ideal.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Silver Poster buttslinger's Avatar
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    Feb 2012

    Default Re: Presidential Pardons: Justice or Bad Law?

    Stripping an American of all their Rights and throwing them in a cell is serious business and should be treated so.

    World Class Asshole

  4. #4
    filghy2 Professional Poster
    Join Date
    Apr 2010

    Default Re: Presidential Pardons: Justice or Bad Law?

    I'm sure he's not trying to send a signal to certain people who know things and might be tempted to make a plea bargain to save themselves from prison.

    If there is a problem with miscarriages of justice then surely there must be a better way that relying on the arbitrary whim of one person -eg all pardons should be based on recommendations of an independent panel of judges.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Platinum Poster
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    Jul 2008

    Default Re: Presidential Pardons: Justice or Bad Law?

    Quote Originally Posted by filghy2 View Post
    I'm sure he's not trying to send a signal to certain people who know things and might be tempted to make a plea bargain to save themselves from prison.
    The conclusion reached here suggests you are right. There is also the curious comparison between leakers who get a pardon and leakers who are threatened with prison, just as one illegal cache of photos is compared to a cache of emails...

    Adam Schiff, a Democratic congressman and persistent Trump critic, was quick to draw the parallels. “On the day the president wrongly attacks Comey for being a ‘leaker and liar’ he considers pardoning a convicted leaker and liar, Scooter Libby. This is the president’s way of sending a message to those implicated in the Russia investigation: you have my back and I’ll have yours,” he tweeted.

    Or, send a list of Black people in prison for drugs offences to Kim Kardashian (or one of however many of these Kardashians there are, which seems to be a lot), get her to wear a really tight skirt and stand next to the President in the Oval Office for a photo, purr sweet words into his ear, and they will be freed. How else will Black Americans get justice?

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