So last week I was leaving a class and a classmate and I ended up discussing the results of the Scooter Libby trial with our professor. Our professor mentioned that conservatives were calling for President Bush to immediately pardon Libby; I was surprised, but mentioned that this is hardly the right time politically for such a thing as last week was one of the worst in the Bush presidency. The political fallout from such a pardon would be disastrous for a president already beset with myriad problems that just keep mounting up; even a lame duck has to maintain some credibility if he wants any of his agenda considered in Congress, let alone passed. Still, last Friday, I read the Charles Krauthammer column in the Washington Post calling for just such a pardon and started wondering about the nature of the pardon.
The Constitution grants to the president, “Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment,” but why do we even have a system for pardoning criminals, and how should the president use that power?