So, the narrative across America is whether Donald Trump can pardon himself. Everyone has an opinion, but most are ignoring a very simple fact: only criminals need pardons. Let that sink in for a moment, the debate in American politics is whether Donald Trump can pardon himself. What does this say about America? What does this say about the “rule of law.”

Almost everyone arguing that America needs to control its borders or that America has too many immigrants, or that immigrants take advantage of the American taxpayer argues that immigrants need to follow the law. These arguments are usually followed by the argument that the rule of law must be respected. Yet, the debate in America now is whether the President of the United States can pardon himself.

Think about that for a moment. A country based on the so-called “rule of law” is debating whether the leader can excuse himself from the rule of law by pardoning himself. Why is that a debate? Is it because Donald Trump worries that he will be convicted of a crime? Are Trump supporters worried about Trump’s crimes?

If so, what happened to the “rule of law” must govern the country?

Does the “rule of law” have two standards of people, one that is excused from the “rule of law” and another that must be subjected to the “rule of law”?

It is a question conveniently ignored by the Donald Trump supporters.

Some even have the audacity to argue that the power of pardons allows the executive to correct a wrong, i.e. reverse a conviction that was unjustly imposed. For example, some will be tempted to argue that pardoning Jack Johnson is an example of how a pardon is used to correct a wrong conviction. This argument ignores the fact that Johnson was convicted of a crime.

As wrong as the White Slave Traffic Act was, it, nonetheless, was a legally prescribed crime at the time. Jack Johnson remains a criminal, like Joseph Arpaio, Scooter Libby and Dinesh D’Souza, notwithstanding the pardons.

All are criminals.

We all accept that slavery is repugnant, but it was legal at one point in American history. Should all historical slave owners be criminally prosecuted today? Obviously, none are alive today, but if they were, would it be right to prosecute them for an activity that was legal at the time they were doing it? As repugnant as slavery is, prosecuting a slave owner, for example, Ulysses S. Grant, would be wrong under the dictum of the “rule of law” because they were not guilty of slavery at the time they held slaves.

On the other side of the coin, anyone convicted of a crime, whether pardoned or not, is a criminal.

There are, of course, times when people are unfairly convicted of crimes. A pardon allows the wrong to be corrected.

But, before the argument of whether someone convicted of a crime was fairly treated under the ideal of the “rule of law” can be raised, the “rule of law” demands that the process must be completed.

In American jurisprudence, the process starts at the indictment, or arrest and moves through the court system, from the initial determination of guilt and through various appeals. Only when the process is completed, can the argument of fairness be raised.

Thus, arguing whether Donald Trump can pardon himself, before an indictment is even proffered leaves only one possible fact, that is that Donald Trump must be guilty of a crime.

So, those of you that love to argue that immigrants are welcome as long as they follow the law, ask yourselves, is your savior, Donald Trump a criminal, or not?

Be honest with yourselves, because you can’t have it both ways, unless you are dishonest.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

2 replies on “Only Criminals Need Pardons”

  1. Well, at least we have a rule of law. More than you can say about Mexico where the Judiciary is an entrepreneurial enterprise.

  2. People like to debate silly things: Could Trump pardon himself? Did Adam and Eve have bellybuttons? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? It gives people a chance to sound learned and feel important to make “logical” arguments. Flapping ones gums distracts from the fact that one isn’t actually doing anything to make our country better.

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