Not So Great Britain

When Presidents Pardon Their Own Crimes | July 6, 2007

George Mason (1725-1792), the father of the Bill of Rights (1791-2002), argued at the Constitutional Convention in favor of providing the House of Representatives the power of impeachment by pointing out that the President might use his pardoning power to “pardon crimes which were advised by himself” or, before indictment or conviction, “to stop inquiry and prevent detection.”

James Madison (1751-1836), the father of the U.S. Constitution (1788-2007), added that “if the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds to believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty.”

Of course, Bush has long been connected in a suspicious manner to Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, and others. Madison would probably have called for Bush’s impeachment when Bush first refused to investigate or hold anyone accountable for leaking Valerie Plame’s identity, or rather when Bush lied us into the war in the first place, or when he confessed to illegal spying, or when he detained people without charge and tortured them, or when he overturned laws with signing statements or refused to comply with subpoenas, and so on and so forth. Madison wouldn’t have wanted to see his Constitution tossed aside until the moment Bush commuted Libby’s sentence. But he certainly would have acted now if not before.

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