I just posted about this over at ePluribus Media as well; it's well worth diarying here and expanding upon.
Bush did it.
He revoked a pardon that he'd issued earlier.
Yesterday, some other george reported that Bush was re-examining one of the pardons he'd previously issued earlier in the week, and denniswine's comment provided a link to AP's report that Bush had, indeed, revoked the pardon.
The political and legal implications are staggering.
UPDATED Below: a pardon may be unrevocable once complete, but this may present an opportunity to overturn an earlier SCOTUS ruling that determined that.
Here's an excerpt from the ePluribus Media Open Thread:
This sets a whole new precedent, and provides the incoming Obama Administration with one very potent -- and very, very dangerous -- tool: the ability to revoke any Bush pardons based on new information. Like evidence of treason, sedition, war crimes, intentional corruption, coincidental murder, willful ignorance, dereliction of duty or wholesale negligence.
In short, just about everything that Bush might pardon his fellow Administration members for, opening the door for this nation to finally have a means to circumvent the use of pardons to enable dirty Presidents to get away with -- or help their cronies get away with -- crimes most heinous and foul. The potential for criminals who thought to skate free with a Presidential pardon has now been tarnished and sullied, and there is new hope for change and accountability as a result. It's also a step that should be taken lightly, if at all, lest it lead to a tug-of-war of back-and-forth Administrations slapping each other for foolish actions.
This is going to set a lot of pants on fire, not to mention initiate a large number of cranial implosions on all sides of the aisle. Now, of significant note -- and possibly a loophole within the precedent-setting action -- is this blurb from the article:
"The counsel to the president reviewed the application and believed, based on the information known to him at the time, that it was a meritorious application," she said. Bush now believes the case should rest with the pardon attorney.
Bradford Berenson, an associate White House counsel during Bush's first term and Isaac Toussie's lawyer, said in a statement that his client remained confident the pardon attorney would grant his request.
Those paragraphs, available in both the CBS version and the original AP (via Chicago Tribune) version, give me slight pause: has the pardon been revoked, and might it be re-granted, pending further input from the pardon attorney? If the latter is the case, what impact -- if any -- does this have on the initial revocation's precedent-setting use?
We've got some lawyers in the house -- anyone want to chime in on this, or perhaps step in it with us over holiday cheer?
Does this mark an event as significant -- and dangerous -- as it initially appears, and should Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby, among others, now start worrying?
- From LithiumCola's Comment:
Here's the latest from the TPM updates.
Note the late late update:
Late Update: Or maybe not. A knowledge says there's an 1869 case (in re Du Puy) that holds that the president can take back the pardon as long as it hasn't been delivered to the grantee. A quick read of this suggests that this decision binding. That's an old legal text citing this case to argue what I've italicized in this quote: "A pardon is a deed, to the validity of which delivery is essential, and delivery is not complete without acceptance, and a pardon by an outgoing President may be revoked by his successor before delivery."
Late Late Update: A reader passes on some new information suggesting that Du Puy may no longer be the operative precedent in this case and that the Toussie pardon is not revocable. But there are limits on the hours even I'm willing to keep. So this will have to wait for tomorrow -- jmm, 12/24/08, 11:22 PM.
- See Halcyon's comment about whether this could be a ruse to set up a new SCOTUS decision to reinforce the earlier ruling that the Constitution does NOT grant a President the right to revoke a pardon, and my response.
Thanks for all the input and feedback, folks. :)