Monday, January 25, 2021

A Pardon Argument for D.C. Statehood

Ian Ayres

In an oped today's Los Angeles Times, I explore a "police power" argument for D.C. statehood.  There is an important difference between a sovereign and a supplicant when it comes to calling out the national guard.   

The aftermath of attempted insurrection suggests a second rationale for statehood that might be called the "pardon abuse" rationale.  Members of the mob openly requested that Trump pardon them before leaving office and the Justice Department pardon guidelines explicitly say that “the President's pardon power extends to convictions adjudicated in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia” – which means that the President can pardon crimes committed in D.C. that would be unpardonable state crimes if the District were a state.  An advantage of dual federal and state sovereignty over a physical territory is that an unjustified pardon by one executive often does not immunize the pardoned person from being prosecuted by the other sovereign.

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