Begging Your Pardon
December 7, 2008 1:58 PM   Subscribe

Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introduced a bill that would reform the presidential pardon process. Specifically, that the current president be stripped of his power to pardon members of his own administration, and that "the next Attorney General of the United States appoint an independent counsel to investigate, and, where appropriate, prosecute illegal acts by senior officials of the administration of President George W. Bush."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing (39 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well, at least it's not rabidly partisan.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:01 PM on December 7, 2008 [6 favorites]


Best to fix the choice of president than monkey with the Constitution. Just my humble opinion.
posted by etaoin at 2:01 PM on December 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


He's grandstanding. The pardon power can't be changed by statute; it would require a constitutional amendment.
posted by Class Goat at 2:04 PM on December 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yeah... change the constitution. Because if there's something GWB did during his entire mandate was to obey the constitution.
posted by qvantamon at 2:06 PM on December 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


The pardon power can't be changed by statute; it would require a constitutional amendment.

Don't worry - that's in the making.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:08 PM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I seem to remember from childhood that the Constitution also says that you can't make a law regarding a specific person, so they'll have to change that part first.
posted by donkeymon at 2:12 PM on December 7, 2008


So now we're posting front page posts about introduced Bills to Congress? Why not just wait until it becomes a law to post? Or is MetaFilter slowly becoming DailyKos?

Best of the web not so much.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 2:27 PM on December 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Congress is banned from increasing their own wages, so there's at least some intellectual consistency regarding banning (effectively) pardoning oneself.
posted by effugas at 2:27 PM on December 7, 2008


It can't be good for democracy if a president can just wipe the slate after any number of documented abuses of power. When did this slightly dubious tradition start? Presumably it was first used in times of war or rebellion (as the second link explained). So which president set the precedent for treating these pardons as some sort of golden handshake? And does the pardon require that a crime has been committed, or is it something that is done in advance of any litigation? Pardon the ignorance of a non-USAian if you don't mind.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:29 PM on December 7, 2008


donkeymon has a point. Generally if they change something like that, they grandfather in people that are protected by the current law and would be harmed by the new one

(it's a global legal principle that a law can't be changed retroactively* - so if universal pardon is considered a right that the president gets when he is sworn in, it can't be taken away)

* except if you really want those telecoms to spy for you and don't have the time to deal with that pesky constitution now
posted by qvantamon at 2:30 PM on December 7, 2008


qvantamon--

Ex post facto -- the idea that laws can't be changed retroactively -- seems to only apply to the legislature. IANAL, but it seems an almost cherished aspect of the legal system that nobody really knows what the law is until case law is established, i.e. someone goes through the court system and there's a adversarial determination of what the law actually means.
posted by effugas at 2:40 PM on December 7, 2008


le morte de bea arthur: That clause is there just because Washington used to feast on children's flesh
posted by qvantamon at 2:41 PM on December 7, 2008


When did this slightly dubious tradition start?

when the constitution was written

the resolution means nothing - and a bill to change it will not get 2/3rds of the house and senate, much less 3/4ths of the state legislators

and one hardly can protect the constitution by ignoring it

we have two wars, an economic crisis and the potential for much, much worse things ahead of us

we can spare some time to investigate what was done during the bush administration, but it cannot be our first priority - nor can we waste time with futile gestures
posted by pyramid termite at 2:47 PM on December 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it's grandstanding. He might as well call it the Bush is Stinky Bill. Bush is stinky, but come on now.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:56 PM on December 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


qvantamon, donkeymon is referring not to the prohibition against ex post facto laws but to the prohibition against bills of attainder.

Also, this bill would not strip the president of anything. It is "expressing the sense of the House of Representatives" that the president really ought to stop doing this sort of thing. Which I'm sure will make Mr. Bush see the error of his ways and stop immediately.
posted by enn at 2:58 PM on December 7, 2008


Pretty sure this wouldn't be a bill of attainder - it's not directed at any individual, but simply at anyone who was part of a particular administration and did Bad Things. It's not more iffy than, say, appointing a special prosecutor to look into whether something was screwy with President Clinton's real-estate activities.
posted by Tomorrowful at 3:08 PM on December 7, 2008


Additional clarification re: bills of attainder - it's perfectly fine for Congress to write a bill that specifically addresses one person; there are bills all the time that boil down to symbolic statements that Ms. Jane Doe of Smalltown, KS, is a wonderful person, or that Mr. John Doe, of Bigcity, CA, shall be presented with such-and-such medal for being so delightful. What Congress cannot do is write a law that punishes a person or group, ie, depriving them of life, liberty, property, without the intervention of due process and trial, and they can't write ex post facto laws, eg, those that punish actions that were undertaken in the past.

"Please investigate whether someone did something that's always been illegal" is 100% legitimate.

Whether it's a good idea, from a political perspective or any other, is an entirely unrelated matter.
posted by Tomorrowful at 3:15 PM on December 7, 2008


We don't need a bill, we need an artful pretzel. Or a slippery staircase. Or ornery bicycle next to a steep drop. We need a bathroom mis-hap.

Bill, shmill. When has a mere Law meant anything to these bums?
posted by From Bklyn at 3:29 PM on December 7, 2008


is MetaFilter slowly becoming DailyKos?

Doesn't seem necessary, seeing as we already have one.

But if it is, I'm ready.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:31 PM on December 7, 2008


Where are all the rabid Nadler haters who always show up and whine about past elections?
posted by srboisvert at 3:37 PM on December 7, 2008


Where was Nadler when Clinton decided to pardon a convicted felon fugitive?
posted by gyc at 3:51 PM on December 7, 2008


The original post is misleading. Nadler didn't introduce a bill; he introduced a non-binding "sense of the house" resolution (two weeks ago, I might add). Even if it passed, it'll be about as effective as writing "Don't pardon Gonzo" on some scrap paper, tying it to a rock, and throwing that through the window of the Oval Office. (The biggest difference being that the rock-throwing might be interesting enough to be noticed by CNN.)

And the Constitutional amendment is being proposed by the same Congressman. You couldn't put that in the original post?
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 3:54 PM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


The original post is misleading. Nadler didn't introduce a bill; he introduced a non-binding "sense of the house" resolution (two weeks ago, I might add). Even if it passed, it'll be about as effective as writing "Don't pardon Gonzo" on some scrap paper, tying it to a rock, and throwing that through the window of the Oval Office. (The biggest difference being that the rock-throwing might be interesting enough to be noticed by CNN.)

And the Constitutional amendment is being proposed by the same Congressman. You couldn't put that in the original post?


True, it's a resolution; not a bill. And although not in the FPP, the proposed amendment is five comments down from it.

As for the effectiveness of the resolution, well, I still find it significant that the idea is even being proposed. A member of Congress submitting a resolution asking the president not to pardon the guys in his administration who might have committed crimes, and calling for the next Attorney General to investigate wrongdoing of the outgoing president is, to my mind, important.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:06 PM on December 7, 2008


I still find it significant that the idea is even being proposed

God lord, it's Congress, half the crap they proposed should disqualify them from leaving the house unsupervised.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:12 PM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


If it was significant, we would have heard about it two weeks ago. You know, when Nadler actually did this?

Resolutions like this are Congresspersons' versions of letters to the editor. John Conyers probably writes more strongly-worded resolutions than this in his sleep and nobody pays serious attention. Oh look, here's an example.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 4:20 PM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Where was Nadler when Clinton decided to pardon a convicted felon fugitive?

marc rich was not a member of the clinton administration.
posted by Hat Maui at 4:23 PM on December 7, 2008


Does the President sign constitutional ammendments? Because I'd be interested in seeing what happens when he adds a signing statement. Perhaps the universe would implode?
posted by blue_beetle at 4:42 PM on December 7, 2008


No, the executive branch is not involved in the amendment pricess.
posted by Class Goat at 4:59 PM on December 7, 2008


This is the legislative equivalent of an ask metafilter stunt post.
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:03 PM on December 7, 2008


If it was significant, we would have heard about it two weeks ago. You know, when Nadler actually did this?

So, only legislative actions which attract the attention of numerous news outlets are worth discussion then. And even then within a cut-off period of less than two weeks. Got it.

Just thought the whole concept was interesting. Sorry it drove you to bold type.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:25 PM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


By the time anyone got around to a Constitutional Amendment, the Bush era would be long over and Congress will be busy drafting legislation to curtail the Obama administration from wasting the taxpayer's dollars buying puppies for every American.

Either the President can pardon anyone, or he can't. You can't write a law that says "Every President can issue pardons, EXCEPT for George W. Bush!" Hell, NIXON was pardoned, I think democracy will find a way to stumble forward after GWB leaves office, even if he pardons HIMSELF.

(Can he do that, btw?)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:27 PM on December 7, 2008


Just to retroactively clean up my sloppily-worded FPP, here's what really happened:

Nadler submitted a resolution asking that the president refrain from pardoning anyone, and that the incoming Attorney General set up a committee to investigate the current administration and take legal action if there was wrong-doing. A constitutional amendment, likely to be defeated, which would limit the president's pardoning could be submitted in the near future. And apparently resolutions like this are about as rare as air molecules.

I'd like to be able to blame the wording of the FPP on this being one hell of a stressful, shitty night for me, but normally legislative procedure has a calming, Xanax-like effect, so chalk this one up to haste.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:45 PM on December 7, 2008


is MetaFilter slowly becoming DailyKos?

I would like a GreaseMonkey script to orange the blue whenever "politics" is in the tags.

Which, btw, it should be.
posted by rokusan at 6:23 PM on December 7, 2008


This sounds like a really short-sighted idea. As much as I hate, absolutely hate, the bastards in this administration getting away with it, I would prefer to not set this particular precedent.
posted by FormlessOne at 6:30 PM on December 7, 2008


is MetaFilter slowly becoming DailyKos?

Given the idiocy of the above response and others like it, MetaFilter is apparently turning into YouTube.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:47 PM on December 7, 2008


is MetaFilter slowly becoming DailyKos?

Vote up if you think so!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:54 PM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


The sky has been falling for a very long time.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:15 PM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Specifically, that the current president be stripped of his power to pardon members of his own administration

This would be an excellent idea.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:28 PM on December 7, 2008


Thank you for this inspiring and commendable post Marisa Stole the Precious Thing.

Inspiring, because a Representative dared.

I think it's important to participate in your democracy. Don't like something or have a suggestion, then you need to write to your representative in government. Better yet, get many to write in. How else will anything change if all you do is complain about the wording of a post here or 'how old' it is or even the possibility that it can be accomplished for real.

If you don't make a motion, you won't rock the boat.
posted by alicesshoe at 1:29 AM on December 10, 2008


« Older "That's just like a showoff from Tennessee..."   |   Let's go crazy, Bollywood style! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments