Bench Memos

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A Woman President Can Do Anything!


So I’m kind of half-watching ABC’s deeply silly Commander in Chief this Tuesday evening and I want to know where to send the hit men to whack someone in Hollywood for writing a script that misinforms countless, careless, blameless Americans about how our constitutional system operates. After much agonizing, President Geena Davis (sorry, can’t retain her character’s name on the show) decides to commute the sentence of a death row inmate, on Thanksgiving Day no less. The only trouble is, the murderer is languishing on Texas’s death row–perpetrator of a crime under state law, convicted under state law, awaiting execution by state authorities. No one told the writers or producers of this stupid show that a president has no power to pardon, or to commute the sentence of, such a prisoner, but may do so only in the case of persons enmeshed in the federal criminal justice system. They even showed the moment of decision, when the president calls . . . the governor of Texas, to tell him her executive order is on its way! In the real world, such a phone call would be answered by the governor saying, “well, thanks for your opinion of our business, ma’am, but what the hell do you think you’re talking about?”

I hope the Alito hearings are more informative than this product of the Hollywood disinformation factory. With Arlen Specter in the chair, I don’t expect it, but I can hope.


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