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Bench Memos

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Commute Libby’s Sentence?



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In today’s Washington Post, William Otis opines that the appropriate middle ground for President Bush to take in the case of Lewis “Scooter” Libby is to commute his sentence, eliminating his imprisonment but leaving the fine in place.  Based on the reporting I’ve seen Byron York do on the Libby trial, I think reasonable doubts can be entertained whether the “intentional lying” the jury and judge claimed to see actually occurred, and so I still lean toward an outright pardon for Libby, and the sooner the better.  But Otis makes a reasonable case for commutation, and reminds us that the president’s Article II “Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons” includes this lesser form of relief.  He also points out that this would go a long way toward addressing the glaring inconsistency between the fate of Scooter Libby and that of Sandy Berger.



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