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June 14, 2007

Should President Bush give Libby a respite?

Last week, as discussed here, former federal prosecutor William Otis advocates clemency for Lewis Libby as an alternative to a full pardon.  Today, in this great National Review piece P. S. Ruckman Jr. throws out the idea of a respite.  Here is part of an adroit little commentary:

The Constitution gives presidents the power to grant "reprieves and pardons." The U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted that language to include pardons, conditional pardons, commutations of sentence, conditional commutations of sentence, remissions of fines, as well as forfeitures, reprieves, respites, and amnesties.  A respite delays the execution of a sentence.  It does not address issues of due process or guilt or innocence.  It merely suspends sentence for a designated period of time. 

George Washington granted the first respites in June, 1795, when he delayed the execution of two men who fought in the Whiskey Rebellion — both of whom were eventually pardoned.  The typical respite lasts between 30 and 90 days.  But many times, initial grants have been followed by a second and third respite, or as many additional respites as were necessary. Woodrow Wilson delayed the six-and-a-half-year prison sentences of two men with nine respites because an "investigation of the facts" had taken "considerable time" — 13 months to be exact.  Wilson also delayed the five-year sentences of W.G. and S.G. Simpson with three respites before pardoning them.... There is, in short, a long history to the use of the respite.

June 14, 2007 at 04:36 PM | Permalink


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Unfortunately, anything Bush does for Libby is going to look like a favor for a crony, especially given that he has been so stingy about using the pardon power in other cases.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Jun 14, 2007 7:27:43 PM

What does Bush have to lose?

Posted by: S.cotus | Jun 15, 2007 11:13:17 PM

Stingy? George W. Bush has pardon at least 113 people -- maybe someone(s) you wanted to get pardoned didn't for legitimate reason(s) -- here's a partial list:


Posted by: Jake | Jun 18, 2007 1:04:50 PM

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