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Lawyers challenge Arpaio pardon: it "eviscerates...Court’s enforcement power by...endorsing [his] refusal to comply”

Legal groups move to challenge Trump's Arpaio pardon


Politico:


Two advocacy groups moved on Monday to challenge Donald Trump’s pardon of controversial former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, alleging that the president's move was unconstitutional because it undermined the power of the federal judiciary.

A public interest law firm, the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center, sought to file an amicus brief in an Arizona district court, where Arpaio is seeking to vacate a conviction after Trump granted him a pardon last month. The brief was initially turned down by a judge on procedural grounds.

A second group, the Protect Democracy Project, also filed an amicus brief on Monday arguing that the pardon is unconstitutional.

Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, has been repeatedly accused of employing racist law enforcement tactics and mistreating inmates. A Justice Department civil rights investigation concluded that his department racially profiled Latinos, and Arpaio in 2016 lost a bid for re-election. In July, he was convicted of criminal contempt of court because he had continued to detain immigrants without sufficient reason after a federal court order told him to stop. Trump pardoned Arpaio in August, pointing to his "selfless public service."

The MacArthur Justice Center moved to file in the case on Monday but was warned by Judge Susan Bolton that the motion would be denied in three days if it is not edited to adhere to court procedure.



The brief contends that Trump’s pardon of Arpaio violated the Constitution because “it has the purpose and effect of eviscerating the judicial power to enforce constitutional rights.” The MacArthur Justice Center lawyers argue that, while broad, presidential pardon power can not be used to undermine the judiciary’s ability to enforce the Bill of Rights or the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Arpaio pardon, the lawyers argue, “eviscerates this Court’s enforcement power...by endorsing Arpaio’s refusal to comply with federal court orders.”

The brief also takes issue with the breadth of Trump’s pardon, noting that the “text of the pardon is so broad that it purports to allow Arpaio to run for Sheriff again...and escape criminal liability for future contempt.”

Protect Democracy’s lawyers similarly contend that the pardon violates the separation of powers “because it unconstitutionally interferes with the inherent powers of the Judicial Branch.”

They also argue that the pardon goes beyond the president’s power — “We are aware of no case in this Court, the Ninth Circuit or the Supreme Court that has upheld a pardon matching the extraordinary circumstances here, where the contempt is used to enforce court orders protecting the rights of private litigants,” the lawyers write — and violates due process.

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