The constitution begins with these words, “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility…”. 

I am pleased that the preparers listed domestic tranquility third in the list of desired outcomes (goals) of the new system of government to function under the Constitution. The first three goals of the Constitution are: 1. A more perfect Union. 2. Establish justice; 3. Promote domestic tranquility. 

The Constitution allows powers to accomplish the goals. Prosecutions and pardons I see as among those powers.  Both may be used in two ways: To use our refrain from using. To prosecute or not and to pardon or not. When the not way is employed the use seldom leaves tracks, e.g. a warning traffic ticket, 

The warning traffic ticket brings up another observation: Often enough neatly achieving all of those first three goals simultaneously is not possible—the goals conflict with each other. Strict, to the letter enforcement of traffic laws is suboptimal.  Domestic tranquility prevails over Justice when a warning suffices to reach the objective of traffic safety.

Domestic tranquility prevailed over Justice when ex-confederates were pardoned. Domestic tranquility trumped strict application of law. The end of the rebellion was enough to serve justice.

Presidents Ford and Carter granted amnesty to the Vietnam time draft dodgers, those who had fled to Canada. Here again Perfect Union and Domestic tranquility prevailed over application of statute law.

The hazard of abuse of pardons and prosecutions abides. For them to work as envisioned all executives must obey norms not specified in laws.  Actually for the Constitution to work, to have a union where justice prevails and domestic tranquility to ring office holders must obey norms.

The greater part of the MAGA outrage about the Florida indictment of Mr. Trump is whataboutisms. 

Mr. Pense not charged for having federal documents. Mr. Trump was not charged for any documents he returned voluntarily.

One of Mr. Trump’s attorneys had suggested to him trying to make a deal with DOJ. Agreeing to return all the documents in question for an and understanding that there would be no charges for having a government documents in Florida.

“The attorney, Christopher Kise, wanted to quietly approach Justice to see if he could negotiate a settlement that would preclude charges, hoping Attorney General Merrick Garland and the department would want an exit ramp to avoid prosecuting a former president. Kise would hopefully “take the temperature down,” he told others, by promising a professional approach and the return of all documents.”

Mr. Pense not charged. What he got was similar to a warning traffic ticket. A burst of bad publicity and a DOJ investigation. He returned everything without making a fuss. This was a law violation where Perfect Union and Domestic tranquility prevailed over application of statute law.

From my point of view, Mr. Trump forced DOJ to bring charges. His refusal to voluntarily return the federal documents and his continuing claim to have those documents in his possession by right could not be wished away.

Jim Holland

Post navigation