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Trump And The Epiphany of Clarity: The Case For And Against Self-Pardons

July 26, 2017

By Jonathan Turley :  – excerpt

Below is my column in the Hill Newspaper on the continuing debate over the constitutionality of self-pardons.  While I view this question as a close one, I do not agree with commentators like Brookings Fellow Norman Eisen that any claim that a president can self-pardon is “absurd.”  To the contrary, I believe that Trump would have a 50-50 chance in any challenge.

Of course, the first challenge to working out the merits of such arguments would be securing judicial view. In case like Ex Parte Garland (1866), the Supreme Court has previously treated the pardon power as largely unfettered and political in natural – a power that can be used for any federal offense before, during or after a prosecution. It is not something ordinarily subject to judicial review. It is possible that a federal prosecutor could seek to bring a charge and force a court to rule on a motion to quash an indictment based on a prior self-pardon.  A decision could easily go either way on this type of close and intractable question.

Here is the column:...(more)

“It is possible that a federal prosecutor could seek to bring a charge and force a court to rule on a motion to quash an indictment based on a prior self-pardon. A decision could easily go either way on this type of close and intractable question.”

The reason most administrations show restraint is the knowledge that their party will not be in power forever an any new rules they apply on their own behalf as the majority party may be used against them next time their party loses power at the ballot.

In this case, there appears to be no self-constraint on either side. Both parties are guilty of party-protecting power grabs rather than service to the pubic needs. Unless the voters can register their disgust with this sorry state of affairs, the parties are going to lose their support.

The rule of law depends on the public respecting that law. The leaders need to keep that in mind if they want to retain leadership. They better start working for the public if they want to remain in office. The public is not that dumb.

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