President Trump’s political adversaries, whether establishment Republicans or Democrats, are apoplectic at his pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Arpaio instructed his deputies to check the immigration status of anyone who was stopped for a traffic violation, and hand over any illegals they encountered to Border Patrol. Arpaio had a legal duty, according to federal and state law, to detain illegal aliens, and he did his duty.
He was accused of racial profiling, but the plain fact is that the vast majority of illegal aliens in Maricopa County are Hispanic. If he was going to do his job of protecting his citizens from illegal aliens and their criminal behavior, the vast majority of his detainees were going to be Latino. That’s not Sheriff Joe’s fault; that’s the fault of the people who broke our immigration laws. A federal judge ordered him to stop enforcing the law but Arpaio just kept right on doing the job he had sworn a sacred oath to do.
Arpaio is no racist. Under his leadership, his county had the highest percentage of Hispanic law enforcement officers of any county in the entire state, and he elevated more Hispanic officers to command posts than anyone else in Arizona. On top of all that, two of his grandchildren are of Hispanic descent.
Now President Obama exercised the power of the pardon over 1900 times, pardoning terrorists like the unrepentant Oscar Rivera (who was responsible for setting off 28 bombs in Chicago), traitors like Bradley Manning (who likely should have been executed for treason), and multitudinous drug dealers (many of whom almost immediately reoffended). Folks who ought to know better are treating Trump’s pardon of Arpaio as if his use of the pardon power, not Obama’s, was an historically unprecedented affront to the Constitution and represents the end of constitutional democracy.
Sen. John McCain thundered that Trump was showing no “respect for the rule of law,” when in truth the folks showing no respect for the rule of law were the illegal aliens Arpaio apprehended and took off the streets. The judge who sentenced Arpaio likewise showed no respect for the rule of law and Arpaio’s Sixth Amendment right to a trial by jury. McCain blasts Arpaio for having “shown no remorse for his actions.” But why in the world would a sheriff show any remorse for doing his job?
And where was the senator’s umbrage while President Obama was turning convicted terrorists and drug dealers loose on our streets? His silence was deafening.
Sen. McCain’s fellow Swamp denizen from Arizona, Jeff Flake, rebuked the president for refusing to “honor the judicial process.” Senator, perhaps we should start insisting that judges, including the activist oligarch who sentenced Arpaio, honor the judicial process first before we start locking people up for fulfilling their solemn duty to protect public safety.
Speaker Ryan’s spokesman self-righteously declared that “law-enforcement officials have a special responsibility to respect the rights of everyone in the United States.” Mr. Speaker, does that include a judge’s responsibility to respect Sheriff Arpaio’s right to do his job without being treated as a criminal? Every witness who spoke during Arpaio’s trial flatly contradicted the judge’s finding. Where is the respect for Joe Arpaio’s rights, Mr. Speaker?
Let’s be clear: when Obama pardoned people, he pardoned people who broke the law. When Trump pardoned Sheriff Arpaio, he pardoned someone who upheld the law.
When President Trump exercised his constitutional right to pardon the falsely convicted, he was carrying out his sworn duty to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the United States. His pardon was not an attack on the Constitution, it was an application of the Constitution. Trump affirmed the law by reversing this misbegotten miscarriage of justice.
If an activist, left-winger judge is going to find Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt for enforcing the law, I would suggest it is the judge who should be facing discipline and not the sheriff.
It is exceedingly odd to find that some of Arpaio’s fiercest critics are ardent defenders of sanctuary cities, which have turned defying federal immigration law into a sacramental virtue. Hearing them screech about the rule of law would be comical if it didn’t threaten an 85-year-old public servant who has an ailing wife, of time behind bars.
If critics are going to complain this whole thing is political, they would be exactly right. President Obama had his justice department file criminal charges against the sheriff just two weeks before the election that wound up turning him out of office. It doesn’t get any more political than that.
The saying goes that “to err is human, to forgive, divine.” Here’s a corollary: to convict the innocent is human error; to pardon him is divine. Donald Trump is on the side of Lady Justice, the laws of nature, and the laws of nature’s God on this one.