05 December 2008

Pardon Power? I can think of more important constitional amendments we need

Josh Marshall asked for comments on the proposal by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) to introduce a constitutional amendment to limit the presidential pardon power.

This was my response:

Not exactly answering the question, but:

I'm not opposed to some well-thought out limits on the pardon power, but there are far more pressing needs in the area of constitutional reform. Right off the bat how about these?

1. Direct election of the president. 2000 showed as clearly as could be needed how necesarry this is. Even 2008 raised speculation about the uncomfortable possibility, it turned out far from reality, that Obama might have lost the popular vote but still won electorally. What's sauce, etc.

2. A carefully designed Anti-Gerrymander amendment. It's often occurred to me that some kind of modifiable-within-limits mathematical algorithm to ensure that the Congressional districts are not designed merely to re-elect incumbents would go a long, long way towards restoring meaningful public participation in policy decisions.


  1. His first name is Jerrold (you left out the "l"), and everyone calls him "Jerry." He is my Congresscritter, and I can understand why he proposed this amendment. We have a street on this island of Manhattan, which Congressman Nadler's district runs through a part of, called Wall Street.

    Since my congressional district is one of the most liberal in the country (we were the ones who elected a dead man to Congress, because we knew the Democratic Party (at that time leaning heavily to the left) would appoint the right person to fill out the term. And in fact Jerry Nadler is the person who was appointed. He has since, of course, been reelected several times on his own. And he represents this district well.

    This background is by way of letting you know (all the financial services industry workers living in my building, and in the neighborhood, notwithstanding) that we are well aware of the fact that Wall Street and Co. is screwing us quite royally.

    I think Nadler was looking at that aspect of things when he proposed the amendment. He is well enough placed as a committee member to know where the House may decide to nosy around.

    Besides, I don't think Nadler has great ambition (he's way too fat for that; unhealthily fat). So I doubt he would be willing to take on those larger issues.

  2. In reply to Anon.: thanks for the spelling correction, although in my defense the error was in the original. Anyway, I did say I didn't object to the idea in principle. I didn't mean to suggest that Nadler himself was responsible to take on something more worthwhile, just that there are in fact more pressing matters requiring the amendment of the constitution. I suspect Mr. Nadler has no real expectation of any success. Amending the constitution is very difficult, for good reasons, and should be reserved for the most critical matters.


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