The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the power of the President of the United States to grant reprieves and pardons. Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 states: “The President…shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.”
The clause is short, but it gives nearly unlimited power to the President. This site explains the power and the limitations.
The power to pardon is one of the least limited powers granted to the President in the Constitution. The only limits mentioned in the Constitution are that pardons are limited to offenses against the United States (i.e., not civil or state cases), and that they cannot affect an impeachment process. A reprieve is the commutation or lessening of a sentence already imposed; it does not affect the legal guilt of a person. A pardon, however, completely wipes out the legal effects of a conviction. A pardon can be issued from the time an offense is committed, and can even be issued after the full sentence has been served. It cannot, however, be granted before an offense has been committed, which would give the President the power to waive the laws….
The development of the use of the pardon power reflects its several purposes. One purpose is to temper justice with mercy in appropriate cases, and to do justice if new or mitigating evidence comes to bear on a person who may have wrongfully convicted….
Pardons have also been used for the broader public-policy purpose of ensuring peace and tranquility in the case of uprisings and to bring peace after internal conflicts. Its use might be needed in such cases….
The pardon power has been and will remain a powerful constitutional tool of the President. Its use has the potential to achieve much good for the polity or to increase political conflict. Only the wisdom of the President can ensure its appropriate use.
President Donald Trump pardoned former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio last week. The sheriff was “convicted of criminal contempt for defying a court order saying his department must quit detaining illegal aliens.”
As you may remember, the Obama administration failed to uphold federal immigration laws. In fact, the federal government put much pressure on law enforcement officers to not enforce the laws. Sheriff Arpaio was a “law and order” type of sheriff and continued to uphold the law. Michelle Malkin visited a recent Sean Hannity show and gave the following reminder.
This was on overzealous, open borders persecution and prosecution and I think people need to remember the context here because you had the Obama administration officials who have open borders as their motto, as their agenda, as their end goal….
These were the ideologues populating the Department of Homeland Security. Of course, they went after Joe Arpaio, because he was doing the job the Obama administration officials and the federal government refused to do.
President Trump understands that laws are established by local, state, or federal governments and are meant to be enforced. He was not blind to the political reasons for prosecuting and punishing the 85-year-old sheriff. Therefore, he pardoned the sheriff for the misdemeanor that is “punishable by to six months in jail.” President Trump considers Arpaio to be “an American Patriot” who had been unjustly prosecuted and sentenced, one of the purposes for the power to pardon being in the U.S. Constitution.