Scooter Libby, Paris Hilton and Presidential Pardons
For immediate release: Editorial - Unequal Treatment
(ACPA-Washington DC) It's been several months since Scooter Libby was pardoned and with the dust settled, it's time for some reflection on the events surrounding his case. It's difficult to imagine a more treasonous act than outing an active duty CIA agent. That was the crime committed against Valerie Plame by those in power, as an act of vengeance against her husband. He had not toed the line in the matter of lying to the American people about Iraq's alleged African source of WMD.
Yet the only person convicted in relation to this crime was abruptly pardoned. It's difficult to understand on what grounds such a person might be able to gain clemency in a time of (supposed) war.
Read the Constitution!
Libby benefited from a relatively unknown part of the constitution - Amendment 8A. This article prohibits punishment due to a cruel and unusual name. Anyone who has suffered though years of derision with a stupid name will intuitively relate to this provision and it was with quite impressive foresight that Thomas Jefferson penned protection for the cruel and unusually named.
Clearly, Scooter had already suffered a lifetime of derision due to his ridiculous nick-name and without doubt, other inmates would have made fun of Scooter for the entire duration of his sentence.
This was sufficient grounds for President Bush to grant clemency.
However, by his use of a hefty dose of judicial activism, Bush has overstepped his mark with that decision. Jefferson penned the provision to protect those with stupid names - not stupid nicknames. Jefferson quite clearly saw that many people might earn themselves a nickname because of their own acts of foolishness and he did not believe such persons deserved protection. Only those offspring whose dumbass parents foisted a dumbass name on them were supposed to benefit.
So for all the railing Republicans have against overzealous judges, they were quite willing to be activist when it suited their own agenda.
What about Paris Hilton?
More tragic and ironic is that Bush did not step in to pardon Paris Hilton, who applied for clemency under the same provision. Her stupid name would seem to put her in the category. But "Driving Under the Influence," was ranked more serious than outing a CIA agent so clemency was a no-no.
Many African Americans who believe they are disproportionably sentenced have also tried to raise the lame-name defence. TreShaun, Shandrel, Devondre and so-forth are indeed very unusual names, (especially so-forth), but their excessive sentencing is related to color and not name. So the provision does not apply.