A University of Kansas professor said it’s well within the President’s powers to pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, as he did last week.
“The President is given an explicit power in the Constitution to issue pardons,” said Richard Levy, the J.B. Smith Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Kansas. “The Constitution doesn’t indicate any limits or substantive requirements or procedures. There aren’t any legal avenues to challenge the validity of a pardon.”
Arpaio’s is far from the first pardon that has been controversial.
“People my age remember that President Ford pardoned former President Nixon,” Levy said. “That was a very controversial pardon. Many people think that the political reaction to that pardon was an important factor in his electoral loss when he sought to retain office. There were also controversies about broad pardons issued after the civil war.”
Arpaio was pardoned for a contempt of court charge for defying a 2011 order that he stop carrying out immigration patrols.
“The courts are the authority on what the meaning of the law is,” said Levy. “Public officials outside the courts and outside the regular process for resolving cases and legal disputes may have their opinions, but they don’t get to act on those opinions when they are contrary to the established rules. Otherwise, there’s nothing that can protect us.”
Arpaio is eighty-five years old. His sentencing was originally scheduled for October 5th.