Pardon the Telecoms!

If George W. Bush really believes that the telecoms who broke the law by spying on Americans did so for patriotic motives, then why doesn’t he just give them a blanket pardon for doing so?

From a Bush Administration perspective, such a move has the extra advantage in that it can serve as another chapter in the Permanent Constitutional Crisis that is the hallmark of the Dear Leader’s reign. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution allows the President to grant pardons in cases of “offenses against the United States.” It doesn’t restrict this power to natural persons. The Supreme Court’s precedent suggests that this power is pretty close to unreviewable, and I suspect that the current Supreme Court at least will uphold it.

And if you are one of those with Bush Derangement Syndrome, who thinks that he is advocating this only as a way to cover up his regime’s crimes, then all the more so.

If readers have views as to the legality of such a move, I’d be interested to hear it. I’d even be willing to put some money on it on Tradesports if they made it a category.

EMILY LITELLA UPDATE: Never mind! I soon realized, and readers pointed out, that this scenario doesn’t work for two reasons:

1) The suits against the telecoms are civil actions;

2) Telecoms would also be criminally liable under state statutes.

And neither are pardonable by the President. Well, Bush is just going to have to let Reid and Rockefeller do his bidding, which has worked pretty well for him so far.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.