Let's Change the way pardons are granted
I have no problem with giving the president the ability to pardon or commute the sentence of anyone who has been convicted by a federal court. It allows a fix for judicial errors and it allows the government to both express mercy and to apologize for wrongs it has committed.
When I was a kid, outgoing New Mexico governor Tony Anaya commuted the death penalty sentence for all inmates on death row. That was an act of principle.
George Bush's pardon of Scooter Libby was an act of... well, probably craven cowardice. I'll bet Libby asked Bush and Cheney if he should spend his five years in jail writing a tell-all book or if he could maybe not go to prison instead?
Doesn't matter. There are no requirements that a president explain his reasons for granting a pardon. A president can pardon anyone convicted of a federal crime, even on a whim. A president is limited only by the need to get re-elected or the need to keep poll numbers up. A a lame duck, Bush had nothing to lose.
But we should change the pardon rules because it represents a conrtradiction within the constitution. See, on one hand, we're all entitled to equal treatement under the law. On the other, a President can pardon one person, or commute their sentence while leaving somebody in the same circumstances in jail.
Bush claimed that Libby's sentence was excessive. But Victor Rita, a military veteran is currently serving the same sentence (33 months, so it's longer) for perjury.
So I say this, when Bush commuted Libby's sentence, it should be made to apply to "all people similarly situated." Why is Libby a better man than Rita? Just because he's friends with the president? Well, yes, that's the only answer.
So, change the rules in order to comply with the equal protection obligations of the government.
Just a thought.