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December 23, 2008

President Bush issues holiday week batch of pardons and one more commutation

The AP is now reporting here that the second batch of lame duck pardons from President Bush were announced today.  Here are the basics:

Before leaving for the holidays, President Bush commuted one prison sentence and granted 19 pardons, including one to a man who helped the Jewish resistance in the 1940s.

With this latest batch, Bush has granted a total of 191 pardons and nine commutations. That's fewer than half as many as Presidents Clinton or Reagan issued during their two terms.

Since the early press reports do not mention any other of the recipients, I am guessing Scooter Libby is not to be found on this latest list notwithstanding this week's call for a full pardon for Libby in this Wall Street Journal editorial.  Of course, the always terrific Pardon Power is the go-to place for continuing discussion and analysis of this batch of clemencies and of others still hoping and waiting for executive mercy this holiday season.

Some recent related posts:

UPDATE:  Ben Smith at Politico notes here that one of the pardoned is a housing scammer.  In addition he provides this link to the full list of the 20 clemency recipients today.

MORE:  The New York Times has this interesting new piece discussing some clemency issues, which is headlined "A New Spotlight on Libby, the Name Not on the Pardon List."  The piece suggests that Scootber Libby is not having the kind of re-entry difficulties that can plague other convicted felons.

December 23, 2008 at 02:33 PM | Permalink


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Here they are:


There are a lot of drug offenders on the list. Hopefully the "law and order" crowd will condemn the president's actions as encouraging lawlessness. Just as they condemned the Supreme Court in Kennedy for giving a free pass to rapists, the hope of a pardon will make many kids become addicted to pot.

Posted by: S.cotus | Dec 23, 2008 3:08:25 PM


I don't mean to quibble and I'm all for pardoning non-violent drug offenders. However, there aren't "a lot" of drug offenders on the list. To be sure, the commutation was to a drug offender, as were 3 of the 19 pardons. If you look at Bush's totals, 36 out of 190 pardons have been to drug offenders (about 19%), as were 8 out of 9 commutations, Libby being the lone exception.

Posted by: Anon | Dec 23, 2008 3:32:39 PM

Check that. I guess there were four pardons to drug offenders. One guy was convicted of both a drug offense and another offense, which I didn't notice. My apologies. But I think the point still stands.

Posted by: Anon | Dec 23, 2008 3:37:27 PM

S.Cotus, usually there's a lot more intelligence behind your sniping.

The pardon power is written into the constitution, and it's given to the president, not to Justice Kennedy.

The president's issuance of a pardon doesn't create precedent (media whining notwithstanding) or require anyone else to treat similarly situated people differently than they did before.

Also, I count 3 drug offenders on the list, of whom two have long since served their prison and probation sentences. I'm not if 3 counts as "a lot," but I doubt that children will get addicted to pot now that they know they now have a snowball's chance in hell of having their records expunged 15-35 years after they're sentenced. Ex ante, a drug offender probably has a higher chance of having an anarchist on his jury than he does of getting a pardon.

Posted by: | Dec 23, 2008 4:35:42 PM

Layperson > Scotus

Posted by: Tarheel | Dec 23, 2008 5:52:15 PM

anonymous person responding to S.Cotus, why is it okay for the president to be "soft on crime" when exercising his discretion under the Constitution, but not for the justices of the Supreme Court when upholding the Constitution?

Or should I read between the lines of your post and determine that you believe the Supreme Court has no authority to overturn a criminal conviction obtained in violation of the constitution and/or federal law? I realize there are people who truly believe courts should never reverse a criminal conviction ("the jury has spoken!"), but those people are not lawyers and are usually mentally retarded. And they always change their mind the second they or someone close to them gets arrested and "wrongfully" convicted. Then rights of criminal defendants suddenly matter to them.

As a firm believer of ideological estoppel, I think people who advocate denying constitutional rights to criminal defendants should be estopped from invoking those rights if they are ever facing criminal charges. There is no constitutional right to hypocrisy.

Posted by: BruceM | Dec 23, 2008 8:22:37 PM

beware of the pool, blue bottomless pool

Posted by: | Dec 23, 2008 10:21:14 PM

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