Bush Reverses a Pardon

by: Daniel De Groot

Thu Dec 25, 2008 at 10:30


U.S. President George W. Bush took the rare step Wednesday of revoking a pardon he had granted only a day before.

Bush pardoned 19 people on Tuesday, including Isaac Robert Toussie of Brooklyn, N.Y., who had been convicted of making false statements to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and of mail fraud.

On Wednesday, the White House issued an extraordinary statement saying the president was reversing his decision in Toussie's case.

It's a Christmas miracle!  Who knew Article II included the power to unpardon the pardoned?  Look out Scooter Libby and while we're at it, Richard Nixon and the Iran/Contra crew, the unpardons are on their way.

Update: Raj and Mithras Invicti take issue with this in comments.  The case for Bush's power to do this hinges on whether you consider the real pardon to have been granted or just announced (if you see a distinction in this).  No surprise, despite Perino's unawareness of any precedents, they exist.  See some interesting background here.  

I still think this is concerning, considering the President had signed a "master warrant" which could be argued to be the actual act of pardoning.  Focusing on the delivery of a piece of paper seems pedantic.  Josh also thinks this smells and lists other precedents worth considering.

Daniel De Groot :: Bush Reverses a Pardon
Just to be clear:

Perino said she is not aware of any other instance of a pardon reversal, in the Bush administration or others.

If this is allowed to stand, Bush may think he just expanded the office again with another creative (stupid) constitutional interpretation, but instead he has essentially gutted the power of pardons, since your successor can just reverse them.  

I'm not sure how I feel about this.  I generally hate the pardon power as currently construed because it creates an enormous loophole where the President can order subordinates to commit crimes, and guarantee they won't testify against him by pardoning them.  He can effectively run a criminal empire far better than any mafia don with a Judge or two in his pocket ever could.

However, there obviously is some sense to having some kind of Pardon mechanism to alleviate unjust applications of the law, or to reward people who really did redeem themselves in deeds after conviction.  

I hope Toussie fights this in court, this kind of major precedent should not simply exist in the realm of whatever Bush's White House Counsel thinks or Bush apologists are able to convince a credulous gullible media of.

Bush is trying to change the understood meaning of the constitution.  Just because the founders didn't include "no erasies" at the end of the pardon clause doesn't mean it wasn't implied, and a Court should rule on that (one way or the other).

What I really hope for is that this creates such a mess of the pardon power that it builds the impetus for a constitutional amendment to fix and limit the pardon power (leaving what that might be for another day).

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Bush deserves an Xmas Gift from everyone for that. (0.00 / 0)
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Send Bush and Cheney an Xmas gift:

Antemedius | Liberally Critical Thinking

The Tourrie affair (4.00 / 1)
When I posted this, your front page post was not up. But my take is different from yours.

"It seems Isaac Tourrie is exactly the prototype of predatory lender that exacerbated the current housing crisis.


He is the gentleman Bush first pardoned several days ago; then rescinded the pardon.
His father is a large Republican contributor to McCain, Coleman, Gordon Smith, Eric Cantor. I learned of this on dailyKOS from Scout Finch. (How does one set up a link with a post on a blog like dKOS?)
While I did not like the Mark Rich pardon, I would hope Specter and the other Republican Senators who want hearings on Eric Holder will broaden the scope of the investigation to include Mukasey and the Bush Justice Department and how this pardon request got passed up to Bush."

This post doesn't make sense. (4.00 / 1)
The pardon was never actually issued.  It was announced, not issued.  Just like if Bush announces he'll resign and then changes his mind and doesn't resign, that may be unfortunate, but it doesn't mean he's just illegally re-appointed himself.  See:


(The middle of the announcement from the White House says that Bush just directed the Pardons Officer (or some name like that) not to actually issue the pardon, i.e. it was never actually issued.)

I have no beef with the general idea discussed in the rest of the diary of limiting pardon power to restrict abuses, though of course the devil is in the details.  A law of "no pardons after the election" would be an improvement for sure over what we've got now.  If GWB wants to pardon Scooter Libby, let him do so before his party has to face the voters, not afterwards.

Pardons that have been issued but not yet delivered to the recipient or his agent may be revoked (4.00 / 1)
See here.

[ Parent ]
According to the article you linked (0.00 / 0)
a new president can revoke a pardon issued by the previous president as long as the pardon hasn't reached the hands of the prison warden.  I think this provides a strong argument for the idea that President Obama will be able to revoke any pardons granted by President Bush, as long as they haven't reached the hands of the prison warden.  That means Cheney.  If he hasn't been tried and convicted, there is no relevant prison warden, so the pardon cannot have reached his hands, and is revocable. Merry Christmas!  What a great Christmas present from George Bush!

[ Parent ]
That's precisely what Scott Horton is saying: (0.00 / 0)
[ Parent ]
non issue (0.00 / 0)
The legalities around this are going to be pretty clear. Either he did or did not file the official paper work. And either the president can or can not recind a pardon (my money is on not). Either way its all a non issue - either there is no pardon or this would go all the way to scotus and we would a ruling that would apply yo all presdinets for all time. Nothing special here for bush. Some times the left media needs to chill out.

~* the * Will * to go on *~

can we get out of the legal technicalities for a moment? (0.00 / 0)
basically, if a government body with the power to release you tells you that you are released, you should be released.  it shouldn't matter what you did or why, and there is NO way that you should then have your sentence reinstated.  Not only is it going back on someone's word and therefore basically ufnair,  but it's also psychologically torturous.  I don't know anything about this guy or what he did, but I'm sure he's not Henry Kissinger, and I wouldn't even think this was fair if it happened to that bastard.  Pardons don't get an "oops."


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