Power To Pardon

The power to pardon has been a controversial issue since the times of kings.  Throughout history there has been a concern for the abuse of this power by executives conflicted by a need for the means to offer mercy.  These concerns were no different at the time of the drafting of our Constitution.
 In September 1787, George Mason, designer of the Bill of Rights, expressed his concern about the use of the power of pardon in cases of treason:
 “The President of the United States has the unrestrained power of granting pardons for treason, which may be sometimes exercised to screen from punishment those whom he had secretly instigated to commit the crime, and thereby prevent a discovery of his own guilt.”
The Anti-Federalist Cato echoed this concern in his #67 letter regarding the power of pardon for treason:
“which may be used to screen from punishment those whom he had secretly instigated to commit the crime, and thereby prevent a discovery of his own guilt;”
Cato, in this letter, will ask the question of the ages as to the application of this power:
“Will not the exercise of these powers therefore tend either to the establishment of a vile and arbitrary aristocracy or monarchy?”
Another Anti-Federalist, Brutus, expressed his concern of this “kingly” power in his letter #1:
“…designing men…will use the power, when they have acquired it, to the purposes of gratifying their own interest and ambition, and it is scarcely possible, in a very large republic, to call them to account for their misconduct, or to prevent their abuse of power.”
Alexander Hamilton counters with a response to these concerns in Federalist #74.  He explains this power has always been a part of the Executive for two very important purposes; first as a way for the executive to offer grace and mercy:
“Humanity and good policy conspire to dictate, that the benign prerogative of pardoning should be as little as possible fettered or embarrassed.” Fed 74,
Secondly, to be an important check and balance upon the judicial branch:
“The criminal code of every country partakes so much of necessary severity, that without an easy access to exceptions in favor of unfortunate guilt, justice would wear a countenance too sanguinary and cruel.”
Events of history confirm the need for the ability to apply grace in a rigid criminal code and to correct the overzealous hand of a magistrate.  In spite of the concerns regarding the Executive, the exercise of the power of pardon has often been more of an indication of a corrupt judiciary rather than executive abuse.
Presidents have used the power of pardon from the very beginning of our Constitutional Republic.  President George Washington granted pardoned to those who participated in the Whiskey Rebellion. Thomas Jefferson, our 3rd President, after signing the repeal of the Alien and Sedition acts, pardoned those who had been convicted of those unconstitutional and arbitrary laws.  Jefferson wrote in his pardon of David Brown:
“That I Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States of America, in consideration of the premises and of divers other good causes me thereunto moving, have pardoned and remitted and by these presents do pardon and remit to the said David Brown…”
The power of pardon for the president is not unlimited.  Article 2 section 2 clause 1 establishes this executive power:
“…and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.”
The president cannot pardon after impeachment.  He can only pardon federal crimes; he has no authority to pardon State crimes.  The president can issue a pardon at any point beginning with the commission of the crime through conviction and even after sentence has been served.  The president cannot issue a pardon before a crime is committed, that would truly make a king

What Judges Meant for Evil the Juries Made all Good

Today we look at the continued operation of the Department of Justice under the Obama-style prosecution.  We must see this and then ask WHY!  Learn about several victories in spite of this prosecution and what we can do to make a difference.

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Judges Acting In Bad Behavior

A well known conservative says, on the record that federal judges should not be questioned. Let’s take a closer Constitutional look at that.

Alternatively, Judges Acting in Bad Behavior” by KrisAnne Hall can be listened to on YouTube

After Charlottesville, VA

Let me start off by saying I do not support, condone, or defend any of the words or actions created by the white supremacist ideology.  However, I am hearing some very dangerous rhetoric coming forward from the violence that occurred in Charlottesville, VA.  We need to understand the danger of this rhetoric, not just for our own safety, but for the security of future generations.

A pastor recently tweeted, “Every person who turns up to a white nationalist rally should be arrested.  This is 2017.”

This pastor speaks out of ignorance and this ignorance will serve to imprison him one day.  Guilt by association is a Marxist principle.   America was formed upon Natural Law, which establishes that all people have a natural right to life, liberty and his property.  Frederic Bastiat makes this point very clear in is book, The Law:

“Each of us has a natural right -from God- to defend his life, his liberty, and his property.  These are the three basic requirements of life and preservation of any of them is the preservation of the other two.”

Among these natural rights is the right to Freedom of Speech.  Freedom of speech is so essential to all freedom that if members of a society are denied this fundamental right, no other rights are secure.  Benjamin Franklin wrote of this in his Silence Dogood letter of 1722:

“Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as publick Liberty, without Freedom of Speech…This sacred Privilege is so essential to free Governments, that the Security of Property, and the Freedom of Speech always go together; and in those wretched Countries where a Man cannot call his Tongue his own, he can scarce call any Thing else his own…”

If members of a society can be limited in their speech by government force, then there is no defense of any life, liberty, or property; no peaceful defense at all.  The consequence of establishing a government punishment of speech is two fold.  First Franklin shows us that without freedom of speech there is no public liberty, no such things as wisdom.  In that understanding, Franklin explains that without freedom of speech, all public liberty of the people is overthrown.

“Whoever would overthrow the Liberty of a Nation, must begin by subduing the Freeness of Speech; a Thing terrible to Publick Traytors.”

Thomas Jefferson expounds upon this principle when he said, “…if a nation expects to be ignorant & free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was & never will be.”   Without freedom of speech, without the public wisdom that comes from it, all men in that civilization are slaves to the government approved and dictated narrative.

The second consequence to speech controlled by government force is the establishment of a dangerous precedent.   Thomas Paine explains this danger:

“An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty.  It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to even misapply even the best of laws.  He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”

When you invite government to oppress the speech of your enemy, you set a precedent for government to oppress you when the times have changed and the government finds your speech a threat.  This should be the most compelling motivation for this pastor to defend freedom of speech and association.  History is replete with governments punishing religious speech.  This is not a history we should ever want repeat in America.

Freedom of speech and freedom of association go hand in hand.  They are so intimately related, the designers of our Constitutional Republic placed them both in the First Amendment within our Bill of Rights.  You cannot have one without the other.

However, Liberty is not without its limits.  These limitations are necessary for the preservation of Liberty as a whole.  John Leland, a designer of our Constitutional Republic wrote: “Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another.”  Government’s obligation to our rights is to secure them, not regulate them.  Government’s securing of our rights does not involve regulating or punishing speech or freedom of association.  There ought to be only one limiting factor to our liberty, as Leland and Franklin both state, your expression of liberty cannot harm or control the right of another.

“… Freedom of Speech; which is the Right of every Man, as far as by it, he does not hurt or controul the Right of another: And this is the only Check it ought to suffer, and the only Bounds it ought to know.”

Being offended is not a harm, it is a consequence we must suffer to ensure liberty’s survival. We must prosecute people for their actions, that is true.  But arresting and prosecuting people for what they say or for simply being with people who say offensive things will lead America down a path of government oppression we cannot allow.

We must limit the government’s authority to those actions that result in the harm or control of another.  We cannot give government authority over words or associations.  If we give government this power today to control speech we don’t like, then tomorrow our own words and associations may come under the wrath of government when the government doesn’t like what we have to say.

Liberty is not easy, nor is it simple.  But we must know, as John Adams proclaimed, “Liberty must at all hazards be supported.”  We must also know this truth, we must suffer the rantings of fools to ensure that the voice of truth has its day.  The future generations of America and relying upon us to make the right choices.  We must choose Liberty First.

“I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.” Thomas Jefferson


National Gun Protection or Federal Destruction of Rights?

We will look at 2 pieces of legislation that are presented as protections of gun rights and see if they are protection or destruction.  We must be principled so we find the right solutions to our real problems.

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