John Banzhaf writes: Although President Donald Trump has issued a full pardon to former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, and his lawyers have filed a motion seeking to have his conviction thrown out as a result, District Court Judge Susan Bolton has so far refused to grant the motion, and is in fact considering requests before her that she deny it.
In papers lodged with her last week, it was argued that “The president can’t use the pardon power to immunize lawless officials from consequences for violating people’s constitutional rights.” This contrasts with his lawyers’ arguments that “The president’s pardon moots the case, and it warrants an automatic vacatur of all opinions, judgments, and verdicts related to the criminal charge.”
The Justice Department supports his position, telling the judge on Monday that “the government agrees that the Court should vacate all orders and dismiss the case as moot.”
But although many commentators have argued that the President’s pardoning power is “unlimited,” and some have even worried that he might issue blanket pardons to all those being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to frustrate the investigation, she is reviewing contrary legal arguments.
These counter arguments contend that the president’s constitutional power to issue pardons “is limited by later-enacted amendments, starting with the Bill of Rights. For example, were a president to announce that he planned to pardon all white defendants convicted of a certain crime but not all black defendants, that would conflict with the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.”
Similarly, they argue, Trump cannot use pardons to undercut a court’s power to protect people from being denied their Due Process rights by immunizing otherwise unlawful acts like Arpaio’s. It contends that “the president cannot be allowed to weaponize the pardon power to circumvent the judiciary’s ability to enforce and protect constitutional rights.” [Continue reading…]