John Nichols on problematic pardons, Sarah H. Arnold on debate protesters.




George W. Bush

makes the transition from a lawless presidency to the redoubt of history, he still has a final round of high crimes and misdemeanors in him. Specifically, count on Bush to try to pardon the unpardonable–like

Karl Rove


Harriet Miers

and others with whom he likely conspired to thwart the rule of law. His defenders will say Bush’s pardon powers are limitless. In fact, they are not.

The founders of the American experiment were clear on the question of what should be done if a president abuses his privilege to pardon an associate.

James Madison

, “the father of the Constitution,” argued, “[If] the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds to believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty.” Madison’s Virginia compatriot

George Mason

was similarly concerned about misuse of the pardon power. “The father of the Bill of Rights” feared that a future president might attempt to shield himself by preventing the prosecution or jailing of an aide who could testify to the president’s involvement in a high crime or misdemeanor. Mason observed that impeachment would surely be in order if a president attempted “to stop inquiry and prevent detection” of wrongdoing within his administration. Mason also believed that impeachment would be in order if a president were to “pardon crimes which were advised by himself.”

Should Bush pardon Rove and Miers–the subjects of incomplete Congressional inquiries into gross wrongdoing–the House Judiciary Committee would be duty bound to demand that the president explain himself, as then-President

Gerald Ford

did regarding his 1974 pardon of

Richard Nixon

. If Bush refuses, any self-serving pardons should be challenged as the founders intended–with articles of impeachment.    JOHN NICHOLS


On November 10, the day before Veterans Day, ten members of

Iraq Veterans Against the War

(IVAW) will be in court. The vets were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct while demonstrating outside the last presidential debate, held at Hofstra University on October 15. One of them,

Nick Morgan

, was trampled by a police horse and has had to undergo extensive surgery.

Before the debate, IVAW members asked

CBS News

if they could pose two questions to the candidates–on veterans’ healthcare and Iraq War resisters. They received no response. In their request and a subsequent meeting with Nassau County police, IVAW members detailed their plans to hold nonviolent demonstrations: a large contingent would march, and a few members willing to risk arrest would attempt to cross police lines. Morgan was among those not baiting arrest when a mounted police officer rushed the sidewalk where he was standing. He was put in handcuffs while still unconscious. Police accompanied him to the hospital and later took him to jail, where they taunted him.

Morgan is pursuing a civil suit against the Nassau County police, and IVAW is demanding charges against him be dropped and an apology issued. Members are also urging supporters to contact both presidential campaigns and demand that the candidates answer the questions left out of the debate.    SARAH H. ARNOLD

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