Sunday, January 17, 2021

Revising The Pardon - the Hill article

David Levine and I have worked on our proposal to revise the power of the pardon for a long time now.  We wrote a 6,000 word article for the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, and an oped for the East Bay Time.  Now we have been lucky enough to have our latest effort published in The Hill, the online publication for politics and policy that is widely read in Washington.  We are very pleased, and we hope that our proposal now will appear on the menu of those who see the need to reform the pardon -- that's all you can ask, that it get serious consideration. 

Our proposal has two sections.  The first is that all pardons receive the cosignature of the Speaker of the House.  The second is that altering the power of the pardon be subject to ordinary legislative operations, and that amending the constitution no longer be required.  Personally, I think it would be good to forbid pardons in the lame duck period.  If our amendment were accepted, then a majority vote of House and Senate and the signature of the President could effect that change -- note, the President could veto that bill, but it could also be overridden.

An additional note: the pardon has other problems.  Margaret Love, who used to be director of the Office of the Pardon Attorney in the Department of Justice, notes that the bureaucratic process of applying to her former office for the pardon, the process of review and recommendation, used to work tolerably well, but declined severely under Bill Clinton and never really recovered.  She thinks that paying attention to strengthening that process would be salubrious.  In addition, she says that there should be a way within the judicial system to right wrongs of sentencing and dispense routine mercy, and that we should not have to leap to the pardon mechanism.  I think she makes some good points.

Here is the link to our article in The Hill.  An attractive aspect of this article, I think, is that we supply the specific language for our proposal.  Take a look! 

Budd Shenkin


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