December 28, 2004

Pardon Me, But Now I Understand

by Chris Geidner

Last week, I asked Professors Berman and Kerr why they were expending energies criticizing President Bush's rare use of the pardon power and whether they thought anything good would come of it. Berman responded that he:

hope[s] that all the popular and political conversations about moral values and family values will come to focus on the moral and family harms that can be inflicted by overuse of our criminal justice system and incarceration.

Today, it looks like -- in one major way -- a step has been taken in that direction. The Washington Post today is running a story on A4, "President Cautious In Issuing Pardons: Bush Wasting Opportunity, Critics Say." [UPDATE: What's more, I missed that the Post also ran this editorial today.]

The third paragraph [of the article] -- and first quote -- comes from, you guessed it, Berman. He repeats his claim initially aired on his blog that Bush is "stingy" in issuing pardons[-- a wordused by the Post editorial board as well]. The Post also quotes the former federal pardon attorney whose thoughts appeared on Berman's blog (see in "update" here), Margaret Colgate Love. Then, the Post reports:

Love, Berman and others say that presidential clemency could be a useful and powerful tool. Not only could it set an example of forgiveness, but it could also focus attention on a wide range of issues, including the harsh punishment that is a byproduct of federal mandatory-sentencing laws. And if a president used the power regularly and objectively, they argue, it would diminish the controversy sure to accompany some clemency orders.

Professors Berman and Kerr, there's my answer. Your work on this matter no doubt stirred reporter Michael Fletcher (or one of his editors) to get on this story, and the very vision Berman gave in response to my question is in The Washington Post this morning. A job well done.

December 28, 2004 02:09 AM | TrackBack
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