Will our “Commander in Chief” really be hoist by his own petard? Wishful thinking and, of course, one more example of the degree to which the selfish and partisan actions of this Administration are undermining the foundations of the Republic (yes, I am extremely pissed, but at least someone’s making use of his platform to express dismay): Commuting Prison Term Is Implicit Critique of Sentencing Standards (updated version)
“It’s far more important than if he’d just pardoned Libby,” Ms. James said, as forgiving a given offense as an act of executive grace would have had only political repercussions. “What you’re going to see is people like me quoting President Bush in every pleading that comes across every federal judge’s desk.”
Indeed, Mr. Bush’s decision may have given birth to a new sort of legal document.
“I anticipate that we’re going to get a new motion called ‘the Libby motion,’ ” Professor Podgor said. “It will basically say, ‘My client should have got what Libby got, and here’s why.’ ”
Remember, Gore v. Bush was specifically constructed as being a “one off,” non-precedential decision, so you can be certain that any sophistry that’s good enough for the Supreme Court will be immediately embraced by the functionaries of this dismal Administration.
To my few regular readers: I’m sorry. I know you don’t come here for this kind of stuff, but I just *have* to blow off a little steam. I hope you’ll indulge my little primal scream — it’s not been a great week, and it’s only Tuesday.
But records show that the Justice Department under the Bush administration frequently has sought sentences that are as long, or longer, in cases similar to Libby’s. Three-fourths of the 198 defendants sentenced in federal court last year for obstruction of justice — one of four crimes Libby was found guilty of in March — got some prison time. According to federal data, the average sentence defendants received for that charge alone was 70 months.
Just last week, the Supreme Court upheld a 33-month prison sentence for a decorated Army veteran who was convicted of lying to a federal agent about buying a machine gun. The veteran had a record of public service — fighting in Vietnam and the Gulf War — and no criminal record. But Justice Department lawyers argued his prison term should stand because it fit within the federal sentencing guidelines.
[...] The decision to spare Libby also rekindled debate over the federal sentencing guidelines, first enacted in the mid-1980s to ensure that defendants who commit similar crimes receive similar punishment.
Critics of the system, including federal judges, say the rules don’t allow for mitigating circumstances in individual cases and can result in overly harsh punishment.
But the Bush administration and the Justice Department have been tough enforcers of and advocates for the guidelines. And they have frequently been critical of federal judges who give lighter sentences.
[...] “Consistency and fidelity to the law are extraordinarily important. We have expended a lot of credibility to get judges to buy off on this,” said one senior federal prosecutor who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the issue.
“I don’t know how I am going to advise my people,” the prosecutor said. “I cannot tell you how depressed and disgusted people are around here with this decision. It really undercuts law enforcement.”
Who imagines that this President *cares*??!?!?! Good for the LATimes to stick it to him!