Bush's Stingy Exercise of Pardon Power
As former U.S. Pardon Attorney Margy Love says over at White Collar Crime Blog.
He has pardoned only 69 people in five years, about 7% of pardon applications acted on during this period, an absolute number and rate that is lower than any president in the past 100 years. It is curious to me (though not surprising) that elsewhere he presses the outer limits of constitutional powers that most regard as shared with the other branches, while appearing quite timid and uninspired where it comes to exercising the one power that is truly totally his own.
Love also notes that federal pardons are the only way to get rid of a federal criminal record. There is no expungement, and no administrative procedure for restoration of rights.
Because there is no other way under federal law that a person can avoid or mitigate the collateral consequences of conviction, federal offenders remain forever barred from many jobs and benefits and even civil rights, because of their conviction. I am not a particular fan of guns, but many would-be hunters remain permanently saddled with a disability that has absolutely nothing to do with their offense of conviction. Why should someone who cheated on their taxes not be able to shoot skeet?
Love characterizes Bush's use of his pardon power as "doing just enough to avoid being labeled stingy." I call it grinch-like.
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