Commutation? Clemency? Pardon? Sorting Out Legalese in Libby Case

In the last few years the Bush administration has continued this "let's stay tough on crime" and now today we have the president deciding that the standards are too tough for his friend. Only his friends get the benefit.

Margaret Love: Justice Department pardon attorney, 1990-1997; now in private practice

To a large extent the meaning of this has to be drawn from the president's intent. Ordinarily there aren't many reasons given. You have to take Bush at his word. This statement does say implicitly that [Libby] will lose his license. But it depends on the court rules in the jurisdiction where he holds his law license.

If this means he will start pardoning people more generally then it is good news. I feel like he should use pardons more liberally. He is on track to becoming the most parsimonious president in history regarding pardons.

What Libby Had to Say about Pardons

In 2001, when Congress was looking into the controversy over former President Clinton's pardon of financier Marc Rich, Libby testified about it in front of Congress. He had served as a lawyer for Rich but had recused himself of anything regarding Rich's pardon. He said:

Sir, I never studied the pardon power, never looked at cases referring to the pardon power. I'm not a student of how it has actually been employed. My general position would be that the Constitution leaves the power of the pardon unfettered, virtually unfettered by the president, and I would be loath to sit here and second-guess the Founding Fathers.

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