Last week, I wrote an op-ed in The Boston Globe suggesting that a private attorney should be appointed to challenge the constitutionality of former Sheriff Joseph Arpaio’s pardon—a suggestion that has now been formally presented to the judge in Arpaio’s case.
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President Trump's pardon of Joe Arpaio, though completely lawful, will have unfortunate collateral effects on the separation of powers.
First, as a matter of raw executive power, the Constitution imposes no limitations on whom the President can pardon—only that the "offences [be] against the United States" and that the pardon be accepted. In that limited sense, there is nothing problematic about Trump's pardon. That’s the easy part, which we can quickly dispose of. But the inquiry hardly ends there.
President Trump issued his pardon of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio apparently without a Justice Department recommendation or even consultation, according to various outlets citing unnamed officials. It is a question that should be asked.