Trump Pardons Sheriff Joe Arpaio

What You Need To Know About The Abuses Of Sheriff Joe Arpaio

 

Trump pardons Joe Arpaio, the former Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, after Arpaio was found guilty of contempt of court for systematically and unlawfully racially profiling Latinos for traffic stops and detentions.

 

FBI investigation of Sheriff Joe

 

Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin, a conservative commentator, highlighted a letter from a group called Protect Democracy, which is combating Trump’s violations of legal norms, to the public integrity section of the Justice Department’s criminal division. The letter made the case that the Arpaio pardon is, at best, legally suspect.

“While the Constitution’s pardon power is broad, it is not unlimited. Like all provisions of the original Constitution of 1787, it is limited by later-enacted amendments, starting with the Bill of Rights. For example, were a president to announce that he planned to pardon all white defendants convicted of a certain crime but not all black defendants, that would conflict with the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

Similarly, issuance of a pardon that violates the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause is also suspect. Under the Due Process Clause, no one in the United States (citizen or otherwise) may “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” But for due process and judicial review to function, courts must be able to restrain government officials. Due process requires that, when a government official is found by a court to be violating individuals’ constitutional rights, the court can issue effective relief (such as an injunction) ordering the official to cease this unconstitutional conduct. And for an injunction to be effective, there must be a penalty for violation of the injunction — principally, contempt of court.

The president’s unprecedented pardon of Arpaio undermines the rule of law by immunizing unscrupulous law enforcement officials from judicial review. The
foundation of the role of courts as protectors of individual rights will be nullified if they cannot execute and protect their own orders. The pardon itself conveys the unmistakable message that similarly-situated local, state, and federal law enforcement officials need not fear the judiciary, because if they run afoul of a court order, the president will pardon them”.

If you read the whole letter, Protect Democracy makes the compelling point that the presidential pardon power is considerable, but it’s not limitless, and the Arpaio pardon deserves more scrutiny.