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July 2, 2007

Early reactions to President Bush's commutation of Libby's prison sentence

Along with my own initial feelings about the Libby commutation, here are some other notable early reactions to President Bush's notable sentencing "ruling":

From my thoughtful colleague Alan Michaels via e-mail:

The President's statement says that he "respects the jury's verdict," which I take to mean concedes Libby's guilt, but that "the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive," noting the "harsh punishment" of a fine and probation, given the suffering his family and the impact on his personal and professional reputation. I'm sure you'll be making hay of this for your clients, but I am struck by the remarkable hypocrisy of this statement from an administration seeking to have the force of the Sentencing Guidelines restored.

From John here at PowerLine:

This strikes me as an excellent resolution. To my knowledge, it was first advocated by Paul's friend Bill Otis, a former federal prosecutor, in an op-ed in the Washington Post.  The idea quickly gained support.  I also think the President's commutation of Libby's sentence will go over well with the party's conservative base and will contribute, to some degree, to a restoration of Bush's standing with conservatives.

From the often fiery Big Tent Democrat here at TalkLeft:

In the most blatant disregard for the law in quite a while, President Bush commuted Scooter Libby's sentence.  The man is the worst President in the history of the nation and this is merely confirmation of the contempt he holds for the law, the Constitution, and the American People.

CNN's Political Ticker has a lot more reactions here.

UPDATE:  Orin Kerr and Eugene Volokh both "find Bush's action very troubling because of the obvious special treatment Libby received."  Similarly, as noted in this new post, Patrick Fitzgerald and Bill Richardson are also expressing concerns about unequal justice.

July 2, 2007 at 07:09 PM | Permalink


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Help complete the list. While the issue is hot, I ask knowledgable people to fill out the list of Bush pardons and commutations at Wikipedia. One has a missing citation source, and 37 could not be located.

Posted by: ohwilleke | Jul 2, 2007 7:54:32 PM

But . . . the President's commutation power is in the constitution. It seems to me that if you question the propriety of the President's reduction of a "within guidelines" sentence, then you are at odds with the Constitution.

Wouldn't a commutation virtually ALWAYS involve a sentence that was within the guidelines? I mean, assuming that the commutation comes after the Defendant has been sentenced and the sentencing judge has applied the guidelines?

Isn't the commutation most likely to be applied in such a case?

Posted by: Tom Dickinson | Jul 3, 2007 5:20:59 AM

Tom, there are lots and lots of sentence imposed above the guidelines --- either because of the application of mandatory minimum sentencing terms or just because a particular sentencing judge decides to be extra tough on a particular defendant. In fact, many hundreds of these sentences are imposed in federal courts every year and thousands of defendants sentences this way are still in prison while Libby now plans to get on with his life.

Posted by: Doug B. | Jul 3, 2007 8:03:21 AM

Great ideas, well presented. I'll keep my eye out for more posts from you.

Posted by: Call Point Key | Sep 12, 2011 11:13:56 AM

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