President Trump granted a pardon on Friday to Joe Arpaio, the former and longtime sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz.
It wasn’t much of a surprise. The president had signaled his intent to pardon the controversial 85-year-old lawman at a campaign rally three days earlier in Phoenix, the seat of Maricopa County.
The White House statement on absolving Arpaio’s misdemeanor contempt of court conviction cited his “life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration.” Arpaio had been convicted of ignoring a federal judge’s order that his department could not arrest Latinos solely because it suspected them of being in the country illegally.
Was the president right to pardon “Sheriff Joe”? That’s our Question of the Week for readers.
Supporters of Arpaio generally approved of his tactics on enforcing immigration laws, while his critics say he was wrong to direct his deputies to enforce federal laws on immigration.
A 2013 civil verdict found the sheriff’s officers to have racially profiled Latinos in the immigration patrols that Arpaio ordered.
President Trump certainly was within his legal rights to pardon Arpaio, even if his timing was somewhat unorthodox. (Normally, a president waits until the appeals process plays out, and until he gets a recommendation from the pardon office of the Justice Department.) Presidential pardon power is nearly unlimited.
Other pardons that created a stir in recent times included President George W. Bush’s clemency for Scooter Libby, who had been convicted in a White House scandal, and President Bill Clinton’s for Marc Rich, who had been indicted on counts including tax evasion and trading with Iran during the hostage crisis.
Do you think a president’s power to pardon should be unlimited, or should such clemency require confirmation from a separate body, such as the U.S. Senate?
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