Jackson Jambalaya has the video of the hearing before Hinds County Circuit Judge Tommie Green over Attorney General Jim Hood’s
helping get the pardon recipients out of jail attempt to block the release of convicts who Gov. Barbour pardoned. I must confess, I didn’t watch it. I’ve never been much on pre-season games. I view the Circuit Court fight as a pre-season skirmish before the Supreme Court decides the issue.
Procedurally, this reminds me of when Judge Malcolm Harrison had to decide the case that challenged the personhood initiative. Everyone knew that the case involved constitutional issues that the Supreme Court would have to decide. Everyone except the Supreme Court that is. In hindsight, the Supreme Court deciding to not decide was sheer brilliance. But my point is that whatever Judge Harrison ruled, the Supreme Court would have final say. The same appears to apply to Judge Green’s decision regarding the Barbour pardons.
One argument being made to uphold the pardons is that the Governor’s decision on pardons are final and not subject to review. Cottonmouth was the first site that I saw raise this issue in this post. Anderson cited a dissent from a 1921 Mississippi Supreme Court case that stated that a Governor’s decision regarding whether publication was made is not open to judicial review. So far I’m not getting this argument.
The same Mississippi Constitution provision that creates the Governor’s right to pardon requires publication before the issuance of the pardon. I don’t see where the Constitution grants to Governor the right to pick and choose which provisions have to be followed. Perhaps the Governor does have that right with respect to pardons. But I want to hear it from the Supreme Court before I’m buying it. Or at least get a better justification than I’ve read so far.
Finally, I’m against what I perceive to be knee-jerk reaction to Barbour’s pardons that the pardon laws should be changed. Getting past the issue of whether that can be done without an amendment to the Constitution, I’m not in favor of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. There are situations where pardons are appropriate and just. I don’t want to take away the power to grant the “good” pardons because people don’t like how Gov. Barbour exercised that power. People who don’t agree with the pardons should be mad at Gov. Barbour—not the law.