US Justice Department won’t support ‘Original Johnson’ pardon
From the AP via Yahoo: Justice Dept. won’t support Jack Johnson pardon
The Justice Department is refusing to back a posthumous pardon for Jack Johnson, the black heavyweight boxing champion who was imprisoned nearly a century ago because of his romantic ties with a white woman.
In a letter obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, the department’s pardon attorney, Ronald L. Rodgers, told Rep. Peter King
that the Justice Department’s general policy is not to process
posthumous pardon requests. In cases like Johnson’s, given the time
that has passed and the historical record that would need to be
scoured, the department’s resources for pardon requests are best used
on behalf of people “who can truly benefit” from them, Rodgers wrote.
The letter was in response to one that King, R-N.Y., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., had sent to President Barack Obama
in October urging a pardon. In that letter, the two lawmakers noted
that both houses of Congress has passed a resolution calling for a presidential pardon
and said they hoped the president would be eager to “right this wrong
and erase an act of racism that sent an American citizen to prison.”
wrote that notwithstanding the department policy, Obama still has the
authority to pardon whomever he wishes, “guided when he sees fit by the
advice of the pardon attorney.”
And he did cite two cases of posthumous pardons: President Bill Clinton’s
1999 pardon of Lt. Henry O. Flipper, the Army’s first black
commissioned officer, who was drummed out of the military in 1882 after
white officers accused him of embezzling $3,800 in commissary funds;
and President George W. Bush’s
2008 pardon of Charles Winters, who was convicted of violating the
Neutrality Act when he conspired in 1948 to export aircraft to a
foreign country in aid of Israel.
In Winters’ case, Rodgers said, the pardon request was not processed by Justice’s Office of the Pardon Attorney, due to the department’s posthumous pardon policy.
King said in a telephone interview that he and McCain probably will continue to urge Obama to issue the pardon.
“What they’re doing here is bucking it back to President Obama,” King said. “So I would respectfully urge him to grant the pardon. This is the president’s call.”
The White House had no immediate comment on whether Obama would consider the request.
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