The Joe Arpaio Pardon

To nobody’s surprise, I hope, President Trump  pardoned the former Maricopa County, Arizona sheriff, a hero to many conservatives and anti-illegal immigration proponents (there is no ethical justification for not being anti-illegal immigration), who was facing up to 18 months in jail for criminal contempt of court, for defying a judge who had ordered him to stop profiling Hispanics.

As I wrote earlier, the President had no good ethical options in this situation. It was a binary choice, and whichever choice he made would be arguably unethical in one respect or another. Let me repeat what I wrote about this question just two days ago, before the President acted:

Let’s see:

  • Arpaio did defy a judicial order. Should a law enforcement official be treated especially harshly when he does this?


  • The judicial order related to Arpaio’s practice of assuming that individuals of Hispanic descent were more likely to be violating the immigration laws in his jurisdiction than other citizens. Since his jurisdiction was rife with Hispanic illegals, was this an unreasonable assumption on his part? No. Was it still discriminatory? Sure. Is the balance between profiling, which in such situations is a valuable law-enforcement tool, and the importance of equal treatment under the law a difficult one legally and ethically? Yes. Does a sheriff have the right and authority to ignore the way this balance is decided one legal authorities define it?


  • Is the determination of this balance often polluted by ideological biases, in this case, against enforcement of immigration laws?


  • Do Donald Trump, and his supporters, and those Americans who may not be his supporters but who agree that allowing foreign citizens to breach our borders at will without legal penalties is certifiably insane, believe that Arpaio’s position on illegal immigration is essentially correct and just?


  • Nonetheless, did his ham-handed methods give ammunition to open-borders, pro-illegal immigration, race-baiting activists like the one who told the New York Times,

“Trump is delivering a slap in the face to dignified, hard-working people whose lives were ripped apart by Arpaio. Arpaio belongs in jail, getting a taste of his own medicine. Trump wants to put Arpaio above the law, showing they are both about white supremacy.”


  • Is sending Arpaio to jail a political imprisonment?

Yes, although he made it easy to justify on non-political grounds.

  • Are political prisoners the ideal objects of Presidential pardons?


  • Would pardoning him send dangerous messages (it’s OK to violate judicial orders you think are wrong; the ends justifies the means; Presidents should meddle in local law enforcement, “extremism in defense of liberty is no vice”) as well as defensible ones ( judges and elected official enabling illegal immigration are a threat to the rule of law; Joe is an old man with a long record of public service who deserves mercy even though he was wrong…)


  • Will such a pardon, especially as the news media is again spinning to make the case that Trump is sympathetic with xenophobes and white nationalists, further inflame an overly emotional debate that needs to be calmed, not exacerbated?

God, yes.

  • Is the most responsible course for Trump to stay out of this mess?


  • Will he?

Of course not.

Sure enough, Democrats, Trump-haters like Senator John McCain and my echo-chamber Facebook friends are denouncing the pardon as if the President had loosed Hannibal Lector on the world. In doing so, they really look ridiculous,  and might as well be wearing  “I hate Donald Trump and will scream bloody murder no matter what he does” in neon on their heads. Especially for Democrats, who have argued that non-violent criminals shouldn’t be imprisoned at all when they are young and black, the argument that an 85 year old man’s under-two year maximum sentence is an outrageous object of Presidential mercy and grace—that’s what a pardon is, you know–is the height of partisan hypocrisy.

The fact that Arpaio is 85 alone justifies a pardon by the standards Presidents have used since the beginning of the office. That his sentence is relatively short—many, many prisoners with far longer sentences have been pardoned by Trump’s predecessors–makes the pardon, if ill-considered, also de minimus, especially since there is no chance, literally none, that the old man, now out of office and retired, will have an opportunity to repeat the crime he was convicted of committing. A pardon is an act of grace by which an offender is released from the consequences of his offense, according to the U.S. Justice Department’s website. It does not say that the offender was not guilty, or that the law that was violated can be breached at will.  In 2013, President Obama pardoned Willie Shaw Jr., who was sentenced in August 1974 to 15 years in prison for armed bank robbery. Armed bank robbery is a lot more serious an offense than criminal contempt, but nobody argued that Obama’s pardon “demonstrates flagrant disregard for the rule of law in this country,” not even the most virulent anti-Obama Republicans. But that’s what Senator Diane Feinstein said Trump’s pardon of Arpaio was:

“Sheriff Joe Arpaio should not have been pardoned. He brazenly denied a federal judge’s court order to stop racial profiling and continued to do so until being convicted of criminal contempt. A pardon for that conduct demonstrates flagrant disregard for the rule of law in this country.”

By that a standard, any pardon is an insult to the rule of law. Does Feinstein endorse the brain-dead view of her fellow California Senator, Kamala Harris, who seemed to argue that criminals shouldn’t be pardoned? I suspect the standard they both embrace is that no conservative law enforcement official should even be pardoned for being over-zealous in enforcing a law that their party disgracefully has tried to have enforced as infrequently as possible.

This is the real hypocrisy of the critics of Trump’s pardon. Feinstein’s state is full of sanctuary cities that intentionally undermine and defy the rule of law, without a peep of protest from its two Democratic Senators. They want Arpaio to be immune from Presidential mercy, unlike the 534 draft- dodgers pardoned by Jimmy Carter, tax fugitive Marc Rich, pardoned by Bill Clinton afters ex-wife made large campaign contributions and donations to the Clinton Presidential Library, gangster union leader Jimmy Hoffa, and all the Confederate citizens and soldiers who took up arms against the United States.  They want him to be metaphorically hung up by his heels to appease their open-border, pr0-illegal immigration base, making the fervor to punish him purely political, and having little to do with respect for the rule of law, which their own position on illegal immigration proves that they don’t respect themselves.

Let me be clear. This isn’t a Rationalization #22 “it isn’t the worst thing” defense of the pardon. It is a “the attacks on this pardon are wildly disproportionate to its reality, and thus transparent political theater” indictment of the pardon’s critics. Almost every pardon can be called a rejection of the “rule of law,” if you don’t understand what the pardon power is, and politicians who have been undermining respect for  the very laws that Arpaio went over-board enforcing are the last people on earth who should make that argument. They are ridiculous in their hypocrisy.

Joe Arpaio was an arrogant, grandstanding bully and thug, and unworthy of his badge. I wouldn’t have pardoned him despite his age, but there were some good reasons for Trump to do so. It was almost worth doing just to prompt Trump’s foes and pro illegal immigration hypocrites into embarrassing themselves.

The larger ethical problem with this pardon is the one focused on by P.S. Ruckman on his Pardon Power Blog. He is correctly troubled by the fact that the usual process for Presidential pardons was not followed (Trump does not even have a pardon attorney on board yet), and that for a political ally like Arpaio to be the President’s first pardon (despite the fact that Obama didn’t pardon his first until well into his second year in office), sends a corrosive message:

Hundreds of persons have applied for clemency and have waited for years, some for 10 or 15. Imagine how demoralized they must feel now. Now, more gasoline will be poured on the classic misconception that clemency is only for famous persons, rich people, political supporters, insiders, the “connected.” It is, of course, a false narrative, but a powerful one. One that defames a wonderful check and balance and, in some instances, discourages politicians from doing anything. They err on the side of caution (they think) by showing mercy to no one, or to as few as possible.

110 thoughts on “The Joe Arpaio Pardon

  1. My response to FB drivel about “when is it abuse of power?” :
    When Obama pardons Lopez-Rivera? When Clinton pardons Roger Clinton or Marc Rich? When Nixon pardons Jimmy Hoffa? When FDR pardons more than 3600, many of whom were controversial. When Carter commutes sentence and Clinton later pardons Patty Hearst? When Ford pardons Nixon — for which T Kennedy argued for sanctions but later supported Ford’s award of the Kennedy Library Profiles in Courage? George HW Bush’s pardon of Caspar Weinberger? Lincoln’s pardon of his sister-in-law or Union deserters? Just a note from history, Pres Obama was not the first to issue a pardon for this in jail for drug offenses–Pres Kennedy also did that. Thanks to

  2. Why not consult a truly fair-n-balanced arbiter of the many blessings of an ”open borders” policy, like, you know, George Clooney?

    He’s spirited his family away from a gated estate in the English countryside (due to security/safety concerns) to his “more secure” gated estate in LA, reportedly in a country of which Donald Trump is President, so he’s near.

    The career Lefty Clooney’s peeps vociferously claim he did not, in any way, shape, or form, base this move on a documented spike in ME immigration to the U.K. and an ancillary uptick of the…um…externalities associated with the aforementioned documented spike.

    Who are we to suspect otherwise…?

  3. I guess one of the ways to get to the head of the Pardon Line for Progressives is to declare that you’ve become Trans, dress as a woman and ask for surgery. That way, even if you’ve committed treason, they’ll applaud your pardon, I.e. “Chelsea Manning”.

      • She was sentenced to serve a 35-year sentence at the maximum-security U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth.[18] On January 17, 2017, President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence to nearly seven years of confinement dating from the date of arrest (May 27, 2010) by military authorities.[19]

        A distinction without much of a difference.

            • By being marked as a felon, that is. Relative to how ecstatic she no doubt felt upon learning she would be doing 1/5th of her sentence, i’m sure that detail wasn’t too troubling. Thirty-five years is a life sentence for all intents and purposes.

              • An amputee would be expected to be quite happy to have some restored function with a prosthetic. It beats the alternative. It is also not the same as being made whole. Commutation is not equivalent to pardon.

                • If she were offered a pardon instead of commutation, but had to spend one more year locked up, I can almost guarantee you that she would have opted for the commutation.

                  • No doubt most people would, and with no way to allieveate gender dysphoria, prison couldn’t have been anything less than hellish. I’d have slit my wrists in far less than seven years.

                    It’s still not the same as a pardon. No argument you make is going to change that.

                    • It was still an enormous and rare reprieve, which I think is how JRH would characterize it.

                      You stated that without showing grievance, derision, or even hostility, so no. That isn’t at all how JRH would characterize it.

                    • Chelsea Manning was tortured in prison.

                      Joe Arpaio had people tortured in his jails.

                      Yes, the two are exactly the same.

                    • I’m going to ask you to stop spreading false Left wing narratives and propaganda here, Chris. If Trump said something that false, he would be called a liar. She was NOT tortured. Headlines said that the UN claimed she was tortured, but that doesn’t make it true. The UN is an anti-US propaganda organization, but even then. what was actually said doesn’t amount to a legitimate finding of torture:

                      The UN special rapporteur on torture has formally accused the US government of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment towards Bradley Manning, the US soldier who was held in solitary confinement for almost a year on suspicion of being the WikiLeaks source.

                      Juan Mendez has completed a 14-month investigation into the treatment of Manning since the soldier’s arrest at a US military base in May 2010. He concludes that the US military was at least culpable of cruel and inhumane treatment in keeping Manning locked up alone for 23 hours a day over an 11-month period in conditions that he also found might have constituted torture.

                      “The special rapporteur concludes that imposing seriously punitive conditions of detention on someone who has not been found guilty of any crime is a violation of his right to physical and psychological integrity as well as of his presumption of innocence,” Mendez writes.

                      Except that Manning was found guilty in a court maartial, and the US does not regard solitary confinement as torture under US law. Thus you can say that some have called what Manning endured “torture,” but you cannot state as fact that she was tortured.

                      I think she should have faced a firing squad.

                    • Jack wrote, “I think she should have faced a firing squad.”

                      I agree.

                      I’d be willing to personally provide the weapon, the bullet, and the person to squeeze the trigger.

                    • No, no! Get away! I can handle this! I’m a good shot! But…can I have three bullets? And a little extra time?

                    • dragin_dragon wrote, “No, no! Get away! I can handle this! I’m a good shot! But…can I have three bullets? And a little extra time?”

                      If you can’t shoot the pecker off a mosquito at 300 meters in one shot using your own rifle, or the eye of a gnat at 25 meters in one shot with your own pistol shot, you’re a NO GO at my station and you’ll likely be recycled when your instructor gets wind of your firearm incompetence. 😉

                    • Jack said, “I think she should have faced a firing squad.”

                      I say, goodbye everyone. I’m done here.

                    • Note that the concept that treason should be punishable by death, as the law dictates, is anathema to those who want to bring down the government. It makes sense, when you think about it.

                    • Except that Manning was found guilty in a court maartial, and the US does not regard solitary confinement as torture under US law.

                      Than US law is wrong.

                      I think she should have faced a firing squad.

                      Dead ethics alarms.

                    • Chris wrote, “Than US law is wrong.”

                      I think you are wrong.

                      I you think a law is “wrong”, then get off your ass and do something effective to change it.

                      Chris wrote, “Dead ethics alarms.”

                      Personally I think those three words intentionally smearing the author of this blog without anything substantial to back up the smear are worthy of a permanent ban.

                    • Except that Manning was found guilty in a court maartial, and the US does not regard solitary confinement as torture under US law. Thus you can say that some have called what Manning endured “torture,” but you cannot state as fact that she was tortured.

                      Should we call it enhanced imprisonment then?

                      Maybe you should invite Joe Arpio to be a commenter since you two show the same attitude toward the treatment of prisoners.

                    • “the US does not regard solitary confinement as torture under US law. Thus you can say that some have called what Manning endured “torture,” but you cannot state as fact that she was tortured.

                      I think she should have faced a firing squad.”

                      Could someone tell me what they’ve done with the real Jack Marshall?

                      This is apparently not torture either under US law, just use of “pain compliance methods”.

                    • ‘She’ was kept in solitary confinement for ‘her’ own protection. You are aware that Leavenworth is a MILITARY prison?

                    • Really, you’re off the rails on this. She was a traitor in a military prison, and an excellent candidate to be harmed or killed, especially with the trans wrinkle. Yup, I think traitors, like vicious murderers, should be subject to the death penalty. And for the UN to say she’s been tortured because she wasn’t convicted (she was convicted) shows nicely why I pay no attention to the UN.

                      Manning got US intelligence personnel killed, by most assessments, and she had to know her conduct would result in that.Assuming one accepts the necessity of capital punishment (as I do), why wouldn’t Manning’s crimes warrant it?

                      Here’s my bias: I come from a military family. My Dad spent the last 60 years of his life walking with a mangled foot because he fought for his country. Someone like Manning, who uses his position in the military to harm the country, is not getting any sympathy from me.

                    • Note that the concept that treason should be punishable by death, as the law dictates, is anathema to those who want to bring down the government. It makes sense, when you think about it.

                      It is uglier than that, though. Supporting treason isn’t just about “bringing down the government,” it is supporting a foreign power doing so. Far too often it results in the deaths of people, and most of those aren’t partisans, but patriots who are supporting our nation regardless of the leaders.

                      Treason, like murder, triggers the death penalty, Chris. Properly so. For the protection of the nation. I’m sure you weep for the Rosenbergs too. I don’t weep for the Rosenbergs, but we stopped going deeper. The Rosenbergs were just the patsies for many other spies.

                      I’m with you, we have a death penalty for treason that we don’t use as often as we should. Robert Hansen shouldn’t be breathing still. He killed many working for us. The Walker father and son shouldn’t have gotten off either. At least in that case the Soviets discovered how outmatched they were and I speculate it helped in the downfall of the Soviet Union as they tried to keep up and couldn’t.

                    • valkygrrl wrote, “with no way to allieveate gender dysphoria, prison couldn’t have been anything less than hellish”

                      What the hell has that got to do with anything?

                      I don’t give a rats ass what the “him”, the “her”, or the “it” Manning feels like in prison, that human being is a treasonous traitor and earned every moment of that 35 year sentence to rot in prison.

                      I’d bet the ranch that if Manning had been a high speed Army Ranger type, he’d still be rotting in that prison. Obama caved in to some kind of social justice bull shit rationalizations and commuted the sentence because “she” deserved some kind of special treatment.

                    • Dead ethics alarms. For saying a traitor to this nation should face the ultimate penalty for the ultimate crime against the duly constituted order of things. The charge of treason is deliberately hard to prove in this nation, and for good reason – it was consistently trumped up and abused by European monarchs who wanted to get rid of people they did not like or saw as a danger. However, Manning’s crimes fit the bill and did enough damage to rate the supreme penalty, both as punishment on its own, and to send a clear message to self-righteous or unbalanced folks whose jobs require high level clearance not to abuse that privilege to make their own policy, even if they don’t agree with current policy.

                      Exposing information that ends up getting people killed should not get you a few years in prison (and maybe even not that, cf. Philip Agee, who regularly lectured at colleges before he died in a run-down apartment in Havana, never having served a day in prison) and then a book deal and a lifetime making $50K a pop on the lecture circuit to bobblehead academics and rebellious college students. It should get you a lethal injection, or, at the very least, life in prison. Robert Hanssen (“The Breach”) only didn’t draw the death penalty because he agreed to give full cooperation to Federal authorities in return for them taking the death penalty off the table. Still, he received fifteen consecutive life sentences, which means he will spend all the remaining days God gives him contemplating what he did. He’s also in solitary 23 hours a day. Suck-o, but completely deserved.

                      I know Jack applauded Obama’s granting of clemency to several prisoners at the end of his time in office. I took issue with it then, which I probably shouldn’t have as strongly as I did. I still question blanket applause for that decision without knowing all the prisoners and the nature of their offenses. I think the decision to cut Manning loose after 7 years, together with the decision to release Oscar Ramirez, a convicted terrorist, early, do not speak well of Obama’s understanding of or handling of criminal justice issues, nor his understanding of the nature of national security offenses, which I believe differ from ordinary “street crime.”

                      Jack has also made it clear in the past that there are certain circumstances under which he believes application of the death penalty to be appropriate, and his criteria for applying it are by no means tyrannical or too lax. If you are among those who believes that the death penalty should never be imposed under any circumstances, well, that’s a position, whether it be because you are unwilling to tolerate even the smallest possibility of someone being executed in error or because you are against doing harm to others and you prefer not to follow your thoughts any further is irrelevant. It’s not the position he holds, or that I hold.

                      To accuse Jack, or anyone else, of having dead ethics alarms for differing with you is the same mentality that has thugs in black masks out there beating people up. I’d look inward before you say something like that again.

  4. I have to admit that I don’t really understand the difference between “criminal contempt” and plain old “contempt”. Was Joe actually charged, tried by a jury of his peers, convicted and THEN sentenced? Or, like most contempt cases, was he just arbitrarily jailed for the maximum sentence by the capriciousness of an angry judge? Just trying to understand the process, here.

    • The judge in charge of administering the injunction believed that there was reason to believe that Arpaio had willfully and repeatedly violated it. He referred the case to another judge for trial. The second judge heard it without a jury.

          • That’s what I was thinking. Final question…proving I am not an attorney. Can this actually be pardoned? Is it really a crime, for which he was convicted and if so, can he be pardoned before sentencing?

              • Well, actually…

                The description that I gave of “summary contempt” and “criminal contempt” was highly simplified. More accurately, they should be called criminal contempt adjudicated in a summary proceeding (which I called “summary contempt”) and criminal contempt adjudicated in a formal trial (which I called “criminal contempt”). In the second category, the trial is held before a judge alone if the sentence is 6 months or less and before a judge and jury if the sentence is more than 6 months. Arpaio requested but did not receive a jury trial and was appealing, arguing that he should have gotten one. I don’t know what the basis for his argument was.

                There’s also “civil contempt.” You can be sent to jail for civil contempt, and you can be held there indefinitely, but it’s not considered a crime. The accused is not entitled to a jury trial, and it doesn’t require proof beyond a reasonable doubt, only a preponderance of the evidence. I don’t know whether the president could pardon it or not.

                • Ah! I didn’t know about the 6 month feature, which makes me wonder how much time Joe was facing. I have read 18 months multiple times. Not that it matters.
                  I don’t think the President can pardon civil contempt. It’s not punishment for a crime; it’s an enforcement measure. The individual has release within his own power, and it doesn’t go on his record like a conviction.

                  • Okay, thanks to Jack and Greg, I think I have a handle on this. The pardon was legal, Constitutional and well within his purview. I don’t much care for the Sheriff, whom I view to be a fanatic, but no legal problem that I can see.

    • dragin_dragon wrote, “I have to admit that I don’t really understand the difference between “criminal contempt” and plain old “contempt”. Was Joe actually charged, tried by a jury of his peers, convicted and THEN sentenced? Or, like most contempt cases, was he just arbitrarily jailed for the maximum sentence by the capriciousness of an angry judge? Just trying to understand the process, here.”

      I’m right with you.

      I for one do not agree with any single person, whether it’s the President of the United States or a State Governor, having the sole power to override our system of justice that was put in place to take individuals that have violated standing laws and put them back on the streets before they have served out their sentence for their crime.

      That said; I have only two exceptions and that is in cases where a prisoner was put in prison for a non-violent criminal act that has been stricken from the books and is no longer an enforceable law, and the second is removing a death penalty of an individual in favor of life-in prison without parole.

      Joe made a choice to violate the order from the Judge, he knew what the likely consequences were; President Trump should have stayed out of this.

      Serious question: why is profiling considered discriminatory?

      • In simplified terms:

        “Contempt of court” consists of conduct that insults or defies the authority of the court.

        “Summary contempt” is a gross violation committed in the courtroom itself and may be punished by the court summarily without notice or hearing. The justification for dispensing with notice and hearing is that the judge must act immediately to protect the integrity of the trial or other proceeding that is then underway.

        “Criminal contempt” consists of a number of other sorts of insulting or defiant misconduct, in Arpaio’s case willful disobedience of a lawful court order. It requires notice, a hearing and a trial by a judge other than the one whose authority has been insulted or defied.

      • I for one do not agree with any single person, whether it’s the President of the United States or a State Governor, having the sole power to override our system of justice that was put in place to take individuals that have violated standing laws and put them back on the streets before they have served out their sentence for their crime.

        It is a nec essary safety valve, as the Innocence Project has shown.

      • Here are some examples of how Arpaio’s profiling worked:

        Everyone who Arpaio happened to arrest would be subjected to this regime of arbitrary abuse. But beginning in the 2000s, he made it his special mission to target unlawful immigrants. Arpaio dispatched his officers to prowl around looking for potential unauthorized aliens to haul in and stock his tent jail with, with few clear criteria for how one was to determine an “illegal” other than that they would be dark-skinned and speaking Spanish. The result was a massive pattern of unconstitutionally discriminatory policing, one that the Justice Department harshly condemned in a 2011 report. Under Arpaio there was “culture of disregard in MCSO for Latinos that starts at the top and pervades the organization,” and “jail employees frequently refer to Latinos as ‘wetbacks,’ ‘Mexican bitches,’ and ‘stupid Mexicans.’” (“Want to see the tent where all the Mexicans are?” Arpaio would ask reporters.) The Justice Department wrote that Arpaio “engages in racial profiling” and “has implemented practices that treat Latinos as if they are all undocumented, regardless of whether a legitimate factual basis exists to suspect that a person is undocumented,” failing to follow “basic policing protocols and without implementing any meaningful safeguards against discriminatory police practices.” Furthermore, Arpaio’s approach typically resulted in “the targeting and harassment of Latino drivers rather than the effective enforcement of immigration law,” meaning that it was just racist, without even accomplishing its stated objective. And Latinos who were U.S. citizens also had to live in fear of being suspected by Arpaio’s officers:

        [A]n MCSO officer stopped a Latina woman – a citizen of the United States and five months pregnant at the time – as she pulled into her driveway. After she exited her car, the officer then insisted that she sit on the hood of the car. When she refused, the officer grabbed her arms, pulled them behind her back, and slammed her, stomach first, into the vehicle three times. He then dragged her to the patrol car and shoved her into the backseat. He left her in the patrol car for approximately 30 minutes without air conditioning. The MCSO officer ultimately issued a citation for failure to provide identification. This citation was later changed to failure to provide proof of insurance. The citation was resolved when the woman provided her proof of insurance to the local courts.

        The woman’s experience was not atypical for that Latino community under Arpaio. 25-year-old Phoenix resident Noemí Romero recently told the New York Times of “dignified, hard-working people whose lives were ripped apart by Arpaio,” including Romero herself, who was swept up in a workplace raid and sent to jail for two months: “My experience was devastating to myself and my family… Arpaio’s people treated me like I was less than human.” Arpaio knew the kind of police state atmosphere he was creating, but didn’t care: “If they’re afraid to go to church, that’s good,” he said.

        Eventually, the federal courts intervened and instructed Arpaio to stop. But he persisted, brazenly flouting the order, leading to the contempt charge for which he has now been pardoned. Instead of listening to the judge, Arpaio hired a private investigator to investigate the judge’s wife. Meanwhile, Arpaio continued to inflict misery on Hispanic Arizonans. And the heavy-handedness of the anti-immigrant tactics prevented Arpaio’s office from solving actual crimes in Hispanic areas, creating what the Justice Department called “a wall of distrust that has significantly compromised MCSO’s ability to provide police protection to Maricopa County’s Latino residents.”

        You tell me: Is this discriminatory?

        • But he is not convicted of the crime of any of these, to the extent that they are crimes. We can find ugly descriptions of the harm done by, say, the Confederate soldiers, or various drug dealers. Pardons pardon citizens for bad behavior, when mercy is deemed appropriate for whatever reason the executive chooses. Almost any pardon can be criticized the same way.

          I, for example, would not pardon any professional drug dealer.

        • Chris I asked, “why is profiling considered discriminatory?”

          Let me clarify that question based on the context of the discussion; “why is Police profiling considered discriminatory?”

          Do you know that you really didn’t even try to answer the question I asked you just wrote a great big pile of deflections about things that have happened or have the potential of happening after initial contact with police regardless of the conditions that put the initial contact into motion.

          Logic dictates that the business of policing must effectively profile to take criminals off the streets. Here’s an example, a call goes out to patrol officers that a bank has just been robbed in the center of town and the four robbers left on foot; they are described as black women between the ages of 20 and 25, height 5’10” to 6’2″, with tall thin builds, and speaking Swahili. Are the police in the above example supposed ignore this information “profile” and swarm the mall 5 miles away and stop the four short, fat, white, men walking down the mall hallway speaking English so the police won’t be accused of profiling? Of course not; the police are not supposed to ignore profile information, they should be actively searching for those that resemble the profile starting in the area around the robbery and working their way out from there; this is the intelligent thing to do; ignoring the profile information would be a clear sign of utter incompetence. Profiling is not only logically necessary it’s morally necessary to try and reduce possible police interference of those that are not criminals.

          The profile of illegal immigrants in Joe Arpaio’s area was, and still is, illegal immigrants usually look like Mexicans (whatever that might be), likely speaking only Spanish, quite likely unfamiliar with the area, quite likely unable to read English; of course there are other signs that the individual(s) might intentionally be avoiding police contact that shouldn’t be revealed to the public, profiling by actions, veteran police officers know what I’m talking about.

          If you eliminate profiling from the tools that police can use to track down people that have, or are breaking the law, then the police would never be able to apprehend any criminals that the police didn’t physically witness committing the crime they would have to wait until the criminals turn themselves in.

          I really didn’t/don’t have a problem with Joe Arpaio setting a policy that concentrates efforts on those that are likely illegal immigrants in his area.

        • Chris,

          An astounding number of former Clinton ‘associates’ ARE former because they are dead in suspicious manner. So what? No conviction means this is the same vicious rumor you are hawking here.

  5. The “usual process for presidential pardons” is designed for cases where the president has no personal knowledge of the facts. That’s not this case. If hundreds of people have made meritorious requests for clemency and have waited 10 to 15 years without receiving an answer, that means that the usual process is broken, which is all the more reason not to use it here.

    The ethical issue, as I see it, is this: Trump is in a fight for his life against enemies who are trying to put his family, friends and supporters in jail. Letting them jail one of his most prominent supporters would encourage his enemies and discourage his supporters.

    His enemies’ most important political objective is to prevent him from enforcing the immigration laws. Their main tactic has been to shop around for leftist judges who will enjoin perfectly lawful, indeed necessary, enforcement practices. That’s what they did to foil Trump’s recent so-called “Muslim ban.” It’s also how they nailed Arpaio.

    Arpaio is a jerk. For years, his department routinely engaged in outrageous abuses of power and violations of civil rights. The guy who blogs at Simple Justice has been recounting Arpaio’s misdeeds for years. Arpaio also willfully defied the injunction, a court order, over and over again for years, boasted about it in public and lied about it in court. You and I know that. Maybe even Trump knows that.

    But most of Trump’s supporters don’t know that.

    In ordinary times, if I were president, I wouldn’t pardon Arpaio; I would eagerly make an example of him to send a message to other government officials about the rule of law. But in these times, facing lawless coup plotters who honor none of the rules and will stop at nothing to destroy him, that’s not the message that Trump would be sending. If he lets Arpaio be hauled to jail for an immigration-injunction-related offense, the message that his supporters will hear is that Trump has lost the immigration fight, that he has surrendered, that he is unwilling or unable to protect even his earliest and most loyal allies.

    In war, you don’t abandon your allies, even if they are objectively bad guys — not if you want your other allies to remain loyal. If Trump’s allies abandon him, then he will lose the war and the plotters will win. Sending Arpaio to jail might make a valuable point, albeit one that is unlikely to significantly curb police abuses, since it appears that only immigration-related abuses will actually be punished. Preventing our system of government from being undermined, however, is a fight that must be won. Given that, it seems to me that Trump has made the right ethical choice.

  6. Being an ex-Sheriff in jail is an awful situation to be in. I myself, would ere toward the need to show mercy to an 85 year old guy who undoubtly defied a judge’s orders in profiling Hispanics. Undoubtly, some of them were guilty of Improper Entry into the USA and should have been rounded up, fined, and deported. I realized there will be hell to pay for Trump from the lefties and open border advocates, probably worse than Ford’s pardon of Nixon which cost him his chance at reelection.

    • If I walked into your hometown and started grabbing people off the street would I find some that should be fined or jailed or deported? Would that justify the action?

      Keep in mind you yourself would be grabbed off the street searched and held for a time.

      What if I did it after a court had specifically ordered me not to?

      That any of them were guilty is moral luck, not justification.

      Arpaio wasn’t sentenced, he faced up to two years but as a first time offender can you be sure he’d receive the maximum? What if he’d been fined? Would he still deserve mercy?

      And for that matter mercy is not synonymous with a pardon. Why could Trump not have waited and then granted clemency for any jail time but left the conviction intact? Would that not be mercy?

      I don’t want to sound like I’m against pardons. If Trump wanted to issue a blanket pardon for say anyone who’d completed their sentences and not been in trouble with the law again for a period of five years, that sounds wonderful. Did your time, kept your nose clean and now society forgives you.

      That’s not what happened here. A man defied a court order that told him to stop taking people’s liberty without cause. Donald Trump said, go ahead and defy the judicial branch, I’ve got your back. Court orders have no teeth now, at least if POTUS likes you. Good luck putting that genie back into the bottle.

      How will you feel in 4 or 8 years when a University president gets a pass for defying an order not to use affirmative action? When a mayor forbids military recruiters from visiting schools or chik fillet from opening a franchise? If a governor ignores a stay and orders an execution then gets pardoned? When anti-abortion protesters aren’t allowed within 1 mile of a clinic?

      • Interesting your first sentence. Yes I believe that the cops would find some people guilty of Improper Entry into the USA in my hometown and have to turn them over to immigration and naturalization service. The cops would have to use some discretion regarding who they detained. Obviously somebody with a green card who had not perpetrated another crime would not be detained. Those without papers should be detained until INS can check them out. I hear a lot about creating a climate of fear in the communities these people live in. My opinion is that they should be fearful as they have broken the law.

    • Did Arpaio show mercy toward the people who suffered in his jails? Or did he argue, for decades, that those people should suffer as much as possible since they had chosen to break the law?

      • I have some experience in this area, unfortunately. For many of my fellow inmates, prison raised their standard of living, or at least didn’t seem to meaningfully impact it. They acted like it was a party, playing cards, going to the gym, watching TV and getting together to cook commissary food. Few pursued college courses or the vocational training offered to them, and for all but a very few, this was far from their first go-round. I think the appropriateness of a very punitive climate should depend on the length of sentence. For someone doing life, the sentence itself is severe punishment, and keeping them reasonably comfortable is both humane and serves to keep trouble to a minimum. Most of the rest would probably benefit from an experience that makes jail a very unattractive option.


    “Eventually, the federal courts intervened and instructed Arpaio to stop. But he persisted, brazenly flouting the order, leading to the contempt charge for which he has now been pardoned. Instead of listening to the judge, Arpaio hired a private investigator to investigate the judge’s wife. Meanwhile, Arpaio continued to inflict misery on Hispanic Arizonans. And the heavy-handedness of the anti-immigrant tactics prevented Arpaio’s office from solving actual crimes in Hispanic areas, creating what the Justice Department called “a wall of distrust that has significantly compromised MCSO’s ability to provide police protection to Maricopa County’s Latino residents.”

    This aspect of Arpaio’s tenure is often underappreciated. Many people, even those who hate Arpaio, may be inclined to believe that he saw immigration enforcement as part of his general “tough on crime” approach. He was extreme in his approach to unlawful immigration, one might think, because he was extreme in his approach to all perceived illegality. But this is false. It’s important to understand that Joe Arpaio wasn’t tough on crime. In fact, one of the major scandals of his immigration crackdown was that he did it at the expense of conducting actual policing, letting serious crimes go uninvestigated as he consciously tried to generate national publicity over his harsh tactics against immigrants.

    Not just immigrants. Many of those suing him for mistreatment are US citizens born in the US who look Hispanic. The Sheriff made no distinctions.

    One has to wonder, if the pardon was granted for “just doing his job” what exactly the job entails?

    There’s also another issue. By accepting a pardon, the ex-sheriff admits guilt. As there are currently $200 million worth of civil lawsuits he’s the defendant in, the majority of which the county, not he, would be on the hook for for installing him in office, such a guilty admission might not be looked on too favourably by the residents of the county. They’ve already paid out in excess of $100 million in civil claims and legal fees fighting losing battles. Often to victims’ families in wrongful death suits.

    The only criminal rather than civil offence the sheriff was convicted of was criminal contempt. Pardoning him for that might reasonably be seen as analogous to pardoning Al Capone for Tax Evasion – the only crime he was convicted for.

      • Oliver,
        Your lack of effective comprehension about what Jack wrote in this blog does not imply bias on Jack’s part but it it sure does a nice job implying complete ignorance on your part, but it was sure nice of you to swing by and do a little proxy trolling here to attack Jack.

        Cya idiot.

      • Trust me: it’s utter bullshit. This is in the disgraceful category of other forced arguments that Trump has committed a “high crime” that can’t exist, or has triggered an opportunity to remove him, like the emoluments clause, or the claim that its obstruction of justice to fire someone he has the power to fire, or that there’s a loophole to allow his election not to count. I’m waiting for Richard Painter to weigh in: he’s been the lead miscreant on these. If he admits the pardon is crap, that will mean its super-crap for sure.

        I’ve researched this. That “social change engineer”—how can you take anything written by someone who calls himself that?—is intellectually dishonest. ALL pardons cross the separation of powers. Only impeachment is immune from a Presidential pardon, and even that is sort of misleading. Impeachment itself isn’t conviction for a crime.

        The post is garbage, and the theory wouldn’t last two seconds in the Supreme Court. The argument against the pardon is that it’s a bad pardon. I agree with that. It is unquestionably still a LEGAL pardon.

      • fattymoon,
        In the link you provided Frank De Giacomo wrote “the separation of powers in our government gives each branch of government – legislative, executive, and judicial, certain powers that the other branches are supposed to not interfere with – especially to the degree that they usurp the power of the other branch. President Trump’s pardon of Joe Arpaio undermines the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. US District Judge Grant Murray Snow’s judicial power to hold those who do not follow his lawful orders in contempt of his court has been functionally usurped…”

        I actually agree with this core argument in this position, I am against pardons; however, I’m not a person to use double standards when applying the position, Frank De Giacomo is. After some internet searching, I haven’t found even one reference to Frank De Giacomo applying this argument to Obama’s pardons; therefore, Frank De Giacomo has a terrible is a double standard. The reset of his article after that position shows us just how bias makes you stupid when you’re an anti-Trumper.

        Frank De Giacomo is a morally bankrupt political hack.

        • The judicial branch is pretty much ignoring the separation of powers. The best examples? See the recent Trump immigration executive orders. Nearly all of the injunctions were the judges acting a chief executives instead of performing their constitutional role.

          People tend to forget judicial review isn’t in the constitution, but taken by the judicial branch in Mayberry vs. Madison. There is a heck of a precedent here but we’ve got courts pushing that boundary well into other branches of government. This is an area ripe for a constitutional amendment. Why exactly should 5 of 9 unelected judges have more power than 218 democratically elected Representatives, 60 semi-democratically elected Senators and a semi-democratically elected president?

            • Obama never pardoned anyone for contempt of court.

              But Grover Cleveland has.

              Lots of wacko theories, from Trump-hating scholars and lawyers. The pardon is completely valid, which is why the challenge was thrown out of court.

              I should remind readers that Chereminsky attached his name to an Emoluments Clause lawsuit that had grave standing defects and defined emoluments so broadly that it would essentially be meaningless.

              Chereminsky also confuses civil contempt with criminal contempt. Civil contempt is used as an enforcement mechanism to provide incentives for persons to obey the orders of the court. Criminal contempt is punitive, punishing offenders after the fact. It is unclear if civil contempt constitutes an offense against the United States.

              • No difference between for purposes of constitutionality between criminal and civil contempt. Congress codified and provided some parameters for the exercise of criminal and civil contempt but they are both inherently derived for judicial authority and are not legally pardonable – Grover Cleveland pardon case aside. That decision needs to be revisited.

                • Mr. DeGiacomo,
                  Is your only purpose for coming here to bait others?

                  You know won’t be changing any opinions here regarding this topic and I think you are well aware of that; so Mr. DeGiacomo, to what end is your baiting, to what end?

          • Since I’m sure that Frank is still reading…

            Frank DeGiacomo wrote, “whether President Trump can continue to issue them as the Mueller investigation continues”

            That’s two completely unrelated issues Mr. DeGiacomo, it’s intellectually dishonest to conflate the two.

            Frank DeGiacomo wrote, “For a full discussion of the unconstitutional nature of the pardon”

            It doesn’t take the skills of a Judge or a Lawyer to tell that the challenge to the Joe Arpaio pardon, that you linked to, reads like 12½ pages of Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) where the authors are talking out of both sides of their mouths. After reading the logical contradiction between Page 1 Line 27 and Page 2 lines 12-13, which reads like it’s the basis of the challenge, it was pointless for me to read to the end but I did and what I found was twisted invalid theory. It’s very sad that TDS has caused people to resort to such measures to attack President Trump to “disable” his power to govern.

            It’s my opinion that it’s fully appropriate for that challenge be thrown out of court but yet here you are presenting the “unconstitutional nature of the pardon” as if everything in the challenge to the pardon is factually true. Mr. DeGiacomo have you ever heard of Progressive Magical Thinking? That defined opinion on Urban Dictionary states “Progressive Magical Thinking: The girl in the French Model State Farm TV commercial saying “they can’t put anything on the internet that isn’t true” is a perfect representation of how Progressive Magical Thinking works.” This is how you’re using Progressive Magical Thinking here, “they can’t file a challenge to a Presidential pardon that isn’t true”.

            You haven’t provided anything to convince me that you do not have a double standard as it relates to President Trump and pardons.

            P.S. As I have said before, I am against pardons.

            • The petition relied on the existence of “appeal of felony”. Such a thing does not exist in federal jurisprudence.

              In any event, the decision of the court is unappealable, as no one has standing to appeal.

  8. Joe Arpaio is evil.

            • An Open Letter to Sheriff Joe Arpaio:

              The present political and cultural conflict in the United States has a significant backdrop which has to be understood before one can make sense of the events of the present. In our present the liberal-left. / radical-progressive camp has been enjoying its ascent into cultural and political power. It has gained this position because it ‘marched through the institutions’ and its partisans have significant control over those institutions that produce cultural analysis and mold culture. I don’t know if ‘they’ really represent a larger demographic but it does seem fair to say they ‘dominate the airwaves’. But it is more than that as I have come to understand. Ideologically, they dominate the argument and the conversation.

              To understand how that came about requires a careful examination of the ‘culture wars’ that broke out in the post-Sixties. This is a complex affair. How one describes ‘all of that’ will indicate, almost with no doubt, where one stands in the political camp. Even to try to make a statement about it is difficult. Is the Sixties to be seen as a positive restatement of ‘American values’ put into social action? Or is it to be seen as the beginning of the fracturing of American identity? No matter how one answers that question the fact seems to be that in the Sixties ‘identity politics’ came to life. Various identities took up arms (some merely ideologically but some with deliberate revolutionary intentions) and confronted the postwar ‘American identity’. That identity was wedded, in essence, to the white culture of the United States.

              Black identity, American Indian identity, Chicano identity, Homosexual identity, feminist identity, all came together to assert themselvles against the cultural hegemony of ‘white culture’ and white institutional power. On one pole declamations for ‘inclusion’ and the right to self-affirmation and self-empowerment. On the other a stated intention to literally overturn the state, to topple the state, and replace it with a Communism. Basically, a game of power.

              In order to describe things in generalities it requires the employment of reductions. Is the following reductive statement fair? In 2017 we are now witnessing, we are now living in, the aftermath of 50 years of progressive and radical ‘work’. And that part of that ‘work’ has been a deliberate effort to transform America at a demographic level. That is, to transform the original stock, the Anglo-saxon stock to put it generally, into a physical minority. If I have read correctly this is what Pat Buchanan argues in ‘Suicide of a Superpower’. Here a further definition is required. That what we are dealing with is meta-political. That is, larger and more telling (relevant) than the specifies of demographic politics.

              There are ideas that stand behind the present ascendence to cultural power of a certain ideological faction within America and these have to be located and placed on the table for analysis. The main idea as it pertains to ‘Americanism’ is the notion — the doctrine really — of the ‘propositional nation’. That is a Lincolnian idea, isn’t it? The idea works against regional identification and that of ‘blood and soil’ and replaces that sort of identity with an abstract. Is it an idea in the true sense of the word, or a sentiment?

              In any case, it is this notion, principally, upon that progressives construct their ideology. A true essence is found here and it determines many things, everything perhaps. I suggest though that it is a ‘meta-political’ idea and it is, essentially, a metaphysical definition.

              Opposed to this meta-political and metaphysical notion is the idea that a people does not come to exist through an abstract a priori definition. It is fairly obvious — it hardly needs to be stated and proven — that a people comes into existence and holds itself together on the basis of more tangible and thus non-abstract elements. Facts if you wish. One need only turn to the most concrete example to *prove* this point: the origins of the people who founded the country. A specific people, with specific ‘cultural agreements’, who came together in radical self-definition which, while affirming itself, defined others as not-self, not-part, ‘other’ and excluded.

              But then came along The Proposition. And it came to be elevated and associated with abstract ‘national identity’ just when a region with its contrary metaphysics had been quite ruthlessly crushed. One can hold the fantasy that this *crushing* was for a ‘higher purpose’ but the facts on the ground do not quite support this. This ‘destruction’, I suggest, must be paid very careful attention because it determines everything that follows. In fact it seems to me that destruction entered into a new process within the establishment of ‘identity’. (But then again there too how one defines that event (ACW) will determine, largely, where one stands in many different areas.).

              (And here one must mention that the destruction of the ‘monuments’, their removal, and the will that stands behind it, is coherant to the re-identification project of progressivism. It makes perfect sense).

              Well. Now in our present it is not so much that ‘the chickens have come home to roost’ but rather that we come into a phase of the full flowering of so many different strains of idea, and the effect of so many different choices made. All the seeds planted are sprouting and growing. It is a different metaphor that is required to express it. But looming over this present is a specific meta-politics.

              You will notice, Sheriff Joe, that here I hit a wall. I want to define a contrary meta-politics but doing so my will wanes. Because on what, exactly, would I construct it? I want to say that the ‘reclaiming of America’ and the ‘making great of America’ must be linked to the re-identification of America as (::: gasp! :::) a white nation. I want to say, I want to believe, that to define and protect ‘Occidental civilization’ that I must find a way to be able, ethically, rationally, to link it with those that create it. I want turn away from the notion of ‘propositional community’ and turn back in deliberateness to a self-defintion and a self-identity that is based in ‘blood and soil’ (and all this can and should mean in the best senses). But I find I am surrounded by a sea of people more powerful than I am. They wage a meta-political war against ‘me’ in this sense, and because I have no comprehensible meta-political ideology that might couner theirs, I am ‘as a voice crying in the wilderness’.

              The waging of war is said to be politics by other means. If this is so the end of their politics is, essentially, my annihilation. If a culture-war is an apt metaphor, there was to be a winner and a loser. If I am not mistaken ‘I’ am slated to lose.

              One wants to *play*, as it were, within constitutional political forms. I mean this in the sense of ‘to be a good sport’. Yet I must confess that I do notice the larger meta-political issue looming. It is a will that is upstream from culture. It is social, cultural, physical, mental and biological will that now, in this present, overpowers ‘me’.

      • Yes. Good point. The reporting on the pardon has been consistently misleading and inept. He was convicted of defying a court order to stop violating the rights of detainees by profiling them, not for violating their rights. If a judge orders you not to make a face at him, you do, and he puts you in jail, you have been punished for defying him, not for the face itself.

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