August 26, 2017

Word: The Arpaio pardon

Lawrence Douglas, Guardian  The constitution gives the president the power to pardon to serve the interests of justice and mercy – to correct cases in which federal courts have acted with unwarranted severity. This is the principle that informs the practice. Donald Trump pardons Joe Arpaio, former sheriff convicted in racial profiling case Read more

In pardoning Arpaio, Trump has acted in contempt of this principle. Arpaio, the self-styled “toughest sheriff” in America, systematically abused his powers during his two decades in office before being voted out last November. Most notoriously, Arpaio commanded his police to detain people solely on the suspicion that they were illegal immigrants, even in cases where the “suspects” had violated no state law. This amounted to a blanket invitation to terrorize the domestic population through egregious practices of racial-profiling.

In 2011, a federal district court judge, a Republican appointee, ordered Arpaio to stop a practice that constituted a flagrant violation of constitutional rights. Rather than submit to the federal court order, Arpaio acted in open defiance, placing himself above the federal judiciary and the rule of law. Last month, he was properly convicted of criminal contempt for his defiance. He faced a maximum of six months in jail, but all that is now moot thanks to the president’s pardon.

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