Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 9, 2016

Obama’s Drug Clemency Push Slammed by House GOP Chairman

Goodlatte (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Goodlatte (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte ripped President Barack Obama’s new plans to grant clemency to potentially thousands of nonviolent drug offenders Wednesday.

The Virginia Republican says Congress, not the president, should determine the length of sentences. But the president has absolute authority under the Constitution to issue pardons — though Obama has to date used that authority sparingly.

The administration has noted that thousands of prisoners could be affected by the drug clemency push, especially those sentenced under laws older and harsher than the guidelines set down in a 2010 sentencing rewrite signed by Obama. If those prisoners were sentenced today, many would already be free.

But Goodlatte ripped the idea.

“In an unprecedented move to dramatically expand the clemency process for federal drug offenders, President Obama has again demonstrated his blatant disregard for our nation’s laws and our system of checks and balances embedded in the U.S. Constitution,” he said. “This new clemency initiative applies to current federal inmates, including drug offenders with prior felony convictions or drug offenders who may have possessed a firearm during the commission of their offense. Members of gangs and drug trafficking organizations could also be eligible for commutation under President Obama’s subjective determination.

“Congress is charged with establishing categories of punishments for federal crimes, not the president. This pattern of President Obama picking and choosing which laws to enforce and which to change according to his whim is an alarming trend that must stop.

“The Justice Department’s mission is to ‘enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law,’ not to re-write the laws and to endanger American communities.”

Obama has also pushed Congress to rewrite sentencing guidelines and reduce mandatory minimum sentences. Bipartisan efforts are under way in both chambers to do so.

  • left wing

    obama and holder ( department of bigotry, racism and politics) have to get more democratic voters for November’s election.

  • Victor Fink

    Does anything Obummer do, surprise anyone? Now it’s time to release Blacks because they commit more crime and then are more apt to be charged, convicted, and incarcerated. That’s the long and the short of it. While I too see the need for sentencing reform…. his reasons for releasing post convicted criminals are purely racist.

  • Traid Domon

    After working for 25 years for somebody else I decided it was time for a change, trading was the answer for me because I need to work from home. I say stop working for somebody else and make your own money .Check out the website Traders Superstore, just Google them you should be able to find them, these guys are really doing it right and make you wonder why everybody isn’t like them.

  • Bozeman
  • JStizzy

    I’m sorry Mr. Chairman, but how dare you characterize an expansion of clemency guidelines as “blatant disregard for our nation’s laws and our system of checks and balances embedded in the U.S. Constitution.”

    Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of the Constitution, in relevant part, states, “The President… shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” The President’s power in this area is plenary. He is constitutionally empowered to grant pardons and clemencies in cases of federal offenses for, quite literally, any reason he so chooses.

    For the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee to make such a self-aggrandizing, self-serving, and blatantly and demonstrably false claim about the Constitution is appalling. I hope that if you are to continue as Chairman, or frankly as a member of Congress, you read the document you falsely claim to be upholding.

    • Timothy Thompson

      Clemency of this type was never intended by the constitution, the president is not signaling out one or two injustices he is giving a blanket pardon to people who have been dooly sentenced by our court system. He is setting a precedent that in the future may have serious ramifications. Fairness as stated by Obama and his administration is just a code word to do what ever in the hell he wants to do.

      • JStizzy

        I see no blanket pardon. There are new and broader guidelines for individuals who apply for clemency, but clemencies will be given to individual prisoners, not to all perpetrators of a particular crime. That there may be an increased number of clemencies does not change that proposition.

        All clemency is granted to individuals who have already been duly sentenced by our court system. That is how a pardon or clemency works by definition, so if that is your issue, then you must have a problem with all pardons and clemencies at any level by anybody.

        Under the Constitution, the President does, indeed, have the power to essentially do whatever he wants in the area of clemency. If you have a problem with that, advocate for an amendment to the Constitution.

        None of this, however, addresses my point that the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee is calling an action with explicit constitutional sanction a blatant disregard for checks and balances, and I find that incredibly problematic and concerning.

  • Phillip Wilson (Zerocks Globe)

    With the criminal marxist regime of Hussein Obama, the lies just never cease. Yet another example:

  • Ocean Sprayz

    While the Chinese are exploring the moon, the low-IQ democrats of the Obama regime can’t even get a website working.

  • justice4knot

    My friend’s father is one person who may be able to benefit from this new clemency program. She has started a petition to assist him in receiving clemency. If you feel so inclined to sign the petition to assist him that’d be great. Nevertheless, prison reform is a necessity. There are hundreds of thousands of families that have been touched by heavy-handed sentencing. It is time for these families, and their loves ones, to move forward and to shake off the cobwebs of outdated legislation and oppressive – not punitive – sentencing.

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