Friday, July 13, 2007

Bush´s Justice Problem: "Scooter" Libby vs. Genarlow Wilson

You know, many on the right wing have applauded Bush for commuting "Scooter" Libby's sentence so that he doesn´t have to spend any time in jail while he appeals his perjury conviction. The argument that is most often given is that Libby was subject to a blatant miscarriage of justice, even though the process itself worked as it should have.

Yet, most of these same folks are aware of the miscarriage of justice perpetrated in the case involving Genarlow Wilson, a Georgia honor-roll student who is behind bars for having had consensual oral sex with a 15-yrs-old girl when he was only 17-yrs-old himself. And yet, I don´t recall hearing the same people defending Bush´s commutation of the Libby sentence also demanding a Presidential pardon for this young guy who was clearly wronged. In fact, many conservatives recognized the injustice of this case, and generally criticized as flawed the system that produced this outcome, but nonetheless were content to allow the system to work the problem out for itself. There was no call, as far as I know, for Presidential override of the system like there was for the Libby case. In general, people were very deferential to the principle of the rule of law in this case, all the while criticizing the system as flawed.

The unfortunate perception that we are left with is that Libby, because he is a crony of Bush and because he happens to have a career in government, deserves this kind of Presidential intervention to rectify an injustice but that Genarlow Wilson, because he´s just a kid in Georgia without connections at the White House, somehow doesn´t. And even conservatives have picked up on this imbalance and seeming unfairness when they express disappointment that Bush commuted Libby´s sentence while Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, whom many conservatives consider to be law enforcement heros, remain, in their view, wrongly incarcerated.

The problem with the Bush commutation of Libby´s sentence is not that it is illegal or unconstitutional, but that it damages public confidence in the rule of law and reinforces the notion that the justice system serves the politically connected. And that damage is all the more profound when the originator of this damage is none other than the chief law enforcement officer of the country.

As Andrew Sullivan says:

One rule of law for connected neocons; another for the rest of the country. Get angrier. And get rid of them.
I couldn´t agree more.

No comments: