Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Unequal Protection Clause

Many other bloggers are writing excellent commentary about Bush's decision to commute Scooter's 2.5 year sentence. Digby insightfully linked to this article from two weeks ago (headlined "Bush Seeks To Re-Impose Mandatory Minimums") regarding the Bush Justice Department's desire to impose legislation to require mandatory minimum sentence for those, like Scooter, convicted of federal crimes. Compare the language below to Bush's comments about Scooter last night:

First, here's Gonzo one month ago:

In a speech June 1 to announce the bill, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales urged Congress to re-impose mandatory minimum prison sentences against federal convicts — and not let judges consider such penalties “merely a suggestion.” Such an overhaul, in part, “will strengthen our hand in fighting criminals who threaten the safety and security of all Americans,” Gonzales said...
Justice officials also point to a growing number of lighter sentences as possible proof that crime is on the rise because criminals are no longer cowed by strict penalties"

And here's Bush last night:

"Mr. Libby was sentenced to 30 months of prison, two years of probation and a $250,000 fine. In making the sentencing decision, the district court rejected the advice of the probation office, which recommended a lesser sentence and the consideration of factors that could have led to a sentence of home confinement or probation. I respect the jury's verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive."

So, lets recap: "Crime is on the rise because criminals are no longer cowed by strict penalties," and the law should be changed to require judges to impose prison rather than probation. But, the judge Bush himself appointed, Reggie Walton, who sentenced Scooter to prison time was acting "excessively" when he imposed a prison sentence.

Have you ever seen a more blatant example of changing the Equal Protection Clause from "no state shall… deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws" into George Orwell's famous "All Pigs are Equal but some Pigs are More Equal than others?"

Finally, here's what Patrick Fitzgerald's spokesperson had to say on the subject (h/t emptywheel):

We comment only on the statement in which the President termed the sentence imposed by the judge as “excessive.” The sentence in this case was imposed pursuant to the laws governing sentencings which occur every day throughout this country. In this case, an experienced federal judge considered extensive argument from the parties and then imposed a sentence consistent with the applicable laws. It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals. That principle guided the judge during both the trial and the sentencing.

Glenn Greenwald nicely sums up what this day means, including this obvious statement that you strangely won't read about in most papers:

"The Plame investigation was urged by the Bush CIA and commenced by the Bush DOJ, Libby's conviction pursued by a Bush-appointed federal prosecutor, his jail sentence imposed by a Bush-appointed "tough-on-crime" federal judge, all pursuant to harsh and merciless criminal laws urged on by the "tough-on-crime/no-mercy" GOP. Lewis Libby was sent to prison by the system constructed and desired by the very Republican movement protesting his plight... In every country ruled by a lawless government and a corrupt political and media elite, powerful political officials do not go to prison for crimes. That is why convicted felon Lewis Libby will remain free."

How might Bush respond to Greenwald's "emperor has no clothes remark?" Probably the way Lil' Bush responded to the NYT reviewer who called the show "tasteless:"

"Expect a visit from Homeland Security, writer guy!"

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