By John F. Di Leo -
On July 13, 2015, Barack Obama proudly announced 46 commutations at a federal prison.
It’s not unusual for a president to pardon people or commute sentences. Many presidents and governors do so occasionally, hopefully when they are absolutely convinced that the criminal justice system otherwise failed an innocent defendant.
There are exceptions, of course. Gerald Ford pardoned his predecessor, Richard Nixon, in a well-intentioned effort to heal the nation after the Watergate “scandal” (though calling any political kerfuffle a “scandal,” in light of the Obama administration’s notorious daily crimes, does seem an abuse of the word). And Bill Clinton used the pardon process to release campaign donors and other political supporters, or law clients of relatives and friends, despite their having been undeniably guilty of such crimes as tax evasion, bank fraud, bribery, Medicaid fraud, trading with the enemy…
So, yes, unjustifiable pardons and commutations aren’t completely unprecedented.