Was Trump’s pardon of former sheriff Joe Arpaio unconstitutional?
Joe Arpaio was sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona from 1993-2016. Arpaio self-proclaimed himself “America’s Toughest Sheriff”, a notorious advocate against illegal immigration since 2005.
Over the years Arpaio has been accused of multiple counts of police misconduct, including but not limited to, abuse of power, failure to investigate sex crimes, inappropriate clearance of cases, election law violations, and illicit enforcement of immigration laws.
Following complaints of racial profiling, a federal court monitor was appointed to look into Arpaio’s office operations- ultimately finding that Arpaio lead the worst pattern of racial profiling in US history.
In one case concerning racial-profiling, Arpaio and his subordinates were found guilty of unfairly targeting Hispanic people while conducting traffic stops. A suit was filed against him for unlawful discriminatory police conduct, his office subsequently paying more than $146 million.
Throughout his career, Arpaio found himself the subject of numerous civil rights lawsuits, mostly concerning immigrants. After a federal court issued an injunction that banned the former sheriff from conducting any more immigration roundups, and later found that he continued to detain Hispanic people for further investigation without suspicion of crime after the order was given.
According to federal prosecutors, more than 170 people were unlawfully detained by through racial profiling in Maricopa County by Arpaio and his department after the injunction was ordered.
In July 2017, Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt of court, a crime that was later pardoned by Donald Trump in August.
What’s Happening Now:
Following the pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, many have been questioning its morality. Some, like Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, think that Trump should have let the judicial process take its course. Even House Speaker Paul Ryan has shown disapproval of the pardon.
Protect Democracy is a nonpartisan organization founded by Obama administration alumni that is claiming Trump overstepped his authority by pardoning Arpaio, a Trump endorsee. Law professors, political scientists, and experts have agreed that this pardon will enable those in law enforcement to commit unlawful acts if they believe they can get away with it, as Arpaio did.
“The Arpaio Pardon does not faithfully execute the law; it sends a signal that public officials, so long as they are allies of the President, need not execute the law at all,” Protect Democracy
Protect Democracy believes that the Arpaio pardon represents “a severe threat to our constitutional order” because of its violation of three aspects of the Constitution- the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment, presidential pardon authority under the Constitution, and the separation of powers.
Noah Feldman, a Harvard University Professor of Constitutional Law believes that Arpaio’s pardon is an impeachable offense according to the US Constitution. If Trump pardoned Arpaio for actively refusing to uphold the Constitution and infringing upon the rights of people in America, it would show a contempt for the judiciary, the rule of law, and the Constitution.
“The President may no more use the pardon power to trample the rest of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, then he may use the Commander-in-Chief power to call down airstrikes on political opponents,” Protect Democracy Briefed. “The pardon power does not trump the rest of the Constitution. The Arpaio Pardon seeks to do just that.”
H/T: Huffington Post