Obama Officials Respond To Trump’s Arpaio Pardon With A Major Legal Smackdown


President Donald Trump made headlines a few weeks ago, when he pardoned former Sheriff Joe Arpaio — known as “America’s Toughest Sheriff” — from a jail sentence for various forms of police misconduct.

Arpaio spent most of his 24 years as Sheriff as Phoenix’s top law enforcer, the National Post notes. That said, that title wasn’t something given to him without reason. The controversial sheriff has been accused of abuse of power, failure to investigate sex crimes, unlawful enforcement of immigration laws, and so on.

According to the president, though, Arpaio is a “worthy candidate” for a presidential pardon.

An official statement White House statement reads:

‘[Arpaio] ran and won a campaign to become Sheriff of Maricopa County.  Throughout his time as Sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration.  Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now eighty-five years old, and after more than fifty years of admirable service to our Nation, he is worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.’

A few days prior, he hinted at a rally in Phoenix:

‘So was Sheriff Joe was convicted for doing his job? I’ll make a prediction. I think he’s going to be just fine, okay?’

Now, however, Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan organization founded by former Obama administration attorneys, has charged that President Donald Trump’s pardon to former Sheriff Joe Arpaio is unconstitutional, according to the organization’s website.

The organization filed what’s called an amicus curiae or “friend of the court” brief insisting U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton refuse Arpaio’s request for a pardon.

According to Protect Democracy:

‘The Arpaio pardon violates the due process of law at the heart of the Constitution as well as core separation of powers features of the Constitution.’

Basically, Protect Democracy is arguing that, if Trump were to follow through and successfully pardon Arpaio, he would be violating his own presidential duty to uphold the Constitution, because Arpaio was already convicted of violating the Constitution himself.

‘[T]he Arpaio Pardon violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.  While the President’s pardon power is broad, it is not unbounded.  Like other prerogatives assigned to the Executive Branch, the pardon power cannot be read to negate other provisions of the Constitution.  The President could not, for instance, declare pardons for all white people and only white people who had been or might be convicted of federal gun offenses.  That would fail to read the pardon power in harmony with the Equal Protection Clause. Similarly, here, the pardon power in Article II must be read in harmony with the later-enacted Due Process Clause.

‘[T]he Due Process Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment protects certain constitutional rights from interference by state officials. The pardon power cannot breach the fundamental constitutional protection of due process. The Arpaio Pardon would do that and so is invalid.’

Trump may want to work out the details before making an announcement of that magnitude in the future.

Featured Image via Getty Images.