The Los Angeles Times has criticized President Obama for failing to approve even one request for a pardon or other form of clemency during his presidency. This month, Obama denied 605 petitions for commutation of sentences and 71 pardon requests. It’s hard to believe that none of those was deserving of approval, the Times says in an editorial.
In the public mind, the president’s authority to grant clemency tends to be associated with high-profile and politically motivated grants of clemency, such as President Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon for Watergate crimes, President Bill Clinton’s pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich or President George W. Bush’s commutation of the sentence of former vice presidential aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby. Still, presidents have used the pardon authority to right wrongs and reward rehabilitation in much less prominent cases. The Times expresses the hope that Obama is not failing to act for fear of appearing soft on crime. It notes that some advocates of more pardons hope Obama will announce grants of clemency now that the mid-term elections are over.