House Gets Executive Urges

IN this thread, we briefly discussed the fate of Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, who were convicted and sentenced for shooting a Mexican drug smuggler, and then covering up the facts surrounding the shooting.

Last week, the House of Representatives passed an amendment to an appropriations bill that would deny any money to the Bureau of Prisons to imprison either man. The bill literally says, “None of the funds made available under this Act shall be used by the Bureau of Prisons to incarcerate Ignacio Ramos or Jose Alonso Compean.”

This has the effect of commuting the sentence of each man, a power theoretically reserved to the Executive Branch.

In other discussions here on the SDMB of what Congress could and could not do with its power of the purse strings, I have argued that Congress cannot simply “do anything.” This is, I feel, an excellent example of what Congress cannot do, because it violates the separation of powers doctrine.

On the other hand, assuming the Senate concurs with this language and the President signs it, I have to admit that it would be virtually unreviewable… who would have standing to challenge the law?

Still, it’s a really bad idea.

Let’s hope it doesn’t work.

oh sure, this they find the power of the purse on.

If this passes unchallenged, it will basically mean that anyone in the United States with sufficient money or power can avoid jail time.

Is there any reason private citizens couldn’t raise funds to pay for the incarceration of these guys? I’d kick in a few bucks to the “Bricker fund to Ensure Justice”, if such a thing existed; if only to cheese off the wankers in the house who are trying to do something they shouldn’t be doing.

Any idea of who introduced the amendment?

Ted Poe, (R-TX), cosponsors were Tom Tancredo (R-CO) and Duncan Hunter (R-CA). The latter two are both running for president, btw.

Found it. The amendment is sponsored by Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter. It doesn’t actually appear to have passed the House yet. This is according to an LA Times story from Friday link

The quote from the article that I tend to agree with:
“Justice Department spokesman Erik Ablin said: “Legislation that imposes selective funding restrictions that would prevent the executive branch from enforcing duly enacted laws, particularly where the legislation would have the practical effect of commuting or nullifying a conviction or sentence entered by a court under those laws, raises serious questions of improper interference.””

The other side of the argument from the article:
““We have begged the president to please become involved with this, please pardon, please commute,” Tancredo said. “He has chosen not to. This is the only option we have open to us.”
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) said: “The Ramos and Compean prosecution has been the greatest miscarriage of justice in my 30 years in Washington, D.C., and, believe me, I have seen a lot.””

Yes, to me, this would seem like the House would be overstepping its bounds if they pass this. I doubt it would ever get through the Senate.

Looks like Tancredo came up with the idea originally. You can always count on him to be behind weird crap like this.

I’ll have to agree with the OP and** ITR champion**. As much as I think that those two should be relased immediately, this is a usurpation of a power reserved for the executive. And the precedent it would set is troublesome to say the least.

My guess is that Bush will pardon the bill reaches his desk. Which is probably the idea.

A quick search revealed this:

That’s fairly insane. Doesn’t that pretty effectively violate the 14th amendment?

… or can you get around this by arguing that the amendment doesn’t operate in the positive sense? (i.e., you can’t DENY people of privileges/protection unequally, but you can GRANT ADDITIONAL privileges and protection in any way you want?_

Does the presidential pardon power violate the 14th amendment?

The amendment has passed. The bill itself has not.

Then just hold them in a local court or police station jail unil the law is changed to permit them to enter into the corrections system.

That power (the president’s) is enumerated in Article II of the Constitution, so likely not:

Congress doesn’t appear to have any such enumerated power.

Well, the 14th Amendment could have hypothetically removed the Presidential pardon power. It didn’t, of course, but what I’m trying to say is, you can’t answer the question “Does the 14th amendment make pardons unconstitutional” by quoting a part of the Constitution that predates the 14th amendment.

Well, at least it doesn’t upset precedent.

It does seem tantamount to a pardon. But those border agents will still have the conviction on their records so they aren’t getting their slate wiped completely clean.

Out of curiousity, can Congress set prisoners free who’ve been convicted of crimes that are no longer crimes? Let’s say eating banannas is outlawed. Thousands are in federal prison for bananna eating. Then the next (sane) Congress is elected and they repeal that law. Can they set free everyone who is still in prison for it?

I feel it outrageous to grant any form of clemency in this case. Shooting an unarmed man in the back is absolutely unacceptable, especially for law enforcement officers. I don’t care how much marijuana he was trying to smuggle into the country. Bullets kill. Weed does not.

That depends on how much weed hits you, and how fast it’s going. Same as with bullets.

So, who was the most wealthy/powerful person to ever serve jail time for an offense of this caliber? OJ walked. Robert Blake will probably walk. It seems the only things wealthy/powerful people serve time for are drugs and financial crimes.

Enjoy,
Steven