Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Presidential Pardons

President Bush pardoned and then revoked the pardon of con man Isaac Toussie. Whether Toussie's father's sudden donations to the Republican party sealed the deal, or the president did not really know the extent of his crimes involving poor people, it was obvious that the pardon was a major goof. Some have been reminded of President Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich which outraged even Clinton supporters. It would be good for more discussions on the need for pardons to be given out as acts of mercy for those who could use some mercy. This would be a much better use of this power than giving last minute, lame duck pardons of those who have strong lobbies pushing for them, or those who are wealthy or politically connected. Pardons, if used correctly, could assist justice, not work against it.

Donald DeMarco on the Relationship Between Mercy and Justice

"King Frederick William I (1688–1740). This German king once visited a prison where he listened intently to a number of pleas for pardon from prisoners who claimed to be victims of injustice. All swore they had suffered imprisonment on account of prejudiced judges, perjured witnesses, and unscrupulous lawyers. From cell to cell, allegations of wronged innocence and false imprisonment continued until the king came to the door of a cell occupied by a surly inmate who said nothing.
Surprised at his silence, Frederick remarked, somewhat sarcastically, “Well I suppose you are innocent too.” “No, your Majesty,” came the startling response. “I am guilty and richly deserve all that I get.” “Here, turnkey,” thundered Frederick, “come and get rid of this rascal quick, before he corrupts this fine lot of innocent people that you are responsible for.”

"Mercy must honor justice. It can be dispensed rightly only when the validity of justice is acknowledged. Similarly, forgiveness can be granted only when a transgression is acknowledged.
Mercy “does not destroy justice,” as Aquinas noted, “but is a certain kind of fulfillment of justice.” “Mercy without justice, he added, “is the mother of dissolution.”

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