Editor, The Beacon:
The latest round of presidential pardons is now making the news cycle as this administration prepares to leave office.
Regardless of one’s politics, I feel there is something inherently wrong with allowing the president, or any elected official (read: governors as well) to have the power to overturn a conviction and penalty that has been meted out by due process.
I am by no means a constitutional lawyer, but this somehow appears to put one person above the law. The very concept appears to me to run afoul of our Constitution, which divides government into three equal branches, making the executive the stronger branch by virtue of its power to overthrow and discard the workings of the other two.
The Founding Fathers, however, found the proposal compelling enough to write it into Article II of our Constitution. Alexander Hamilton urged its inclusion into the Constitution on the premise that it could help “restore the tranquility of the commonwealth” in times of insurrection or rebellion.
The concept, I suppose, was patterned after the similar powers of the British kings, to which they were all too familiar.
Times and our nation have changed greatly in the nearly two-and-a-half centuries since the Constitution was drafted. As intended by the Founding Fathers, that document is a living one, and as seen by the numerous amendments enacted to it over the years, it can be adapted to changing times and values.
I believe that the time has now come to revisit that portion of Article II, if not to eliminate the powers of presidential pardoning, to limit them to a very narrow list of crimes and circumstances.