Barry SCHWARTZ (Barijo ŜVARC) (chemoelectric) wrote,

The power to grant reprieves and pardons

Randi Rhodes just asserted a questionable reading of the US Constitution that has been going around quite a bit, to the effect that Bush cannot grant pardons if he has been impeached. What it actually says, I think, is that Bush can't stop Congress from impeaching and ousting someone. If you go to the Constitution and read it yourself, I think you will agree that is what must have been meant:

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

It’s a little surprising that for a while Thom Hartmann was pushing the strained interpretation, because he’s the sort of person who has memorized portions of the Federalist papers. I think it is one of those situations where you are shoved into a ‘box’ and need to ‘think’ your way out of it. For my own part, one time when I heard the ‘except in cases of impeachment’ recited by Thom Hartmann, the truer reading came to me in a flash. (I hadn’t thought about it much before that, because no way is Bush going to be impeached by this Republican Congress.) Minutes later Hartmann asked Dennis Kucinich about impeaching Bush so he couldn’t issue pardons, but Kucinich saw the better reading right away, and gave Hartmann an ‘Aha! Now I see!’ moment.


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