Bush can give Libby respite, delay decision on pardoning

(Regarding Byron York column, “No reason to rush Libby to jail,” June 8.) Critics of the administration are ecstatic at the possibility that Scooter Libby will soon enter prison, or that the president will be forced to grant a highly “controversial” pardon before the election. Libby supporters, such as Byron York, appear deeply disappointed that the pardon ... does not appear to be forthcoming. …

The Constitution gives the president the power to grant “pardons and reprieves.” But the Supreme Court interprets that language to include pardons, conditional pardons, commutations of sentence, conditional commutations of sentence, remissions of fines and forfeitures, respites, reprieves and amnesties. A respite delays sentence; it does not address issues related to due process, or guilt or innocence. Nor does it modify punishment. Hundreds of respites have been granted throughout history and, most commonly, they have been used to delay executions, allow additional time to consider clemency, allow individuals to remain free during appeals and to allow executive reconsideration of sentences affirmed in appeals. …

Bush has suggested he does not want to interfere with the judicial process. A pardon would certainly be disruptive. Can [Bush] allow the process to continue, take the position that Libby’s appeal deserves to be heard, allow Libby to stay out of prison [and] avoid any immediate decision on a pardon?

Absolutely, with respites.

~From P.S. Ruckman Jr., political science professor, Rock Valley College (Illinois), Rock Island, Ill.



SOURCE OF INTIMIDATION

Majority rule

(Regarding op-ed, “It’s more aptly called the ‘Employee Coercion and Intimidation Act,’” June 6.) … [Under] the Employee Free Choice Act  ... if a majority of workers sign valid union authorization cards and request their employer to recognize the union as their representative, the Act requires the employer to do so. ...

By contrast, under current law ... when the employees make a decision to join a union, sign authorization cards, and ask for recognition, it is the employer who gets to decide whether to accept the employees’ decision or not. The employer can accept the card majority or insist on its right to spend weeks or months campaigning against the union and to force the employees to choose again — after subjecting them to threats that, for example, the facility might close, that the employer could force the union to strike and then replace the employees, and that there could be violence. …

~From Ross Eisenbrey, Washington


Effective shield

… The Employee Free Choice Act does three things and three things only: It strengthens financial penalties for companies that illegally coerce or intimidate employees in an effort to prevent them from forming a union; it brings in a neutral third party to settle a contract when a company and a newly certified union cannot agree on a contract after 90 days; and it establishes majority sign-up, meaning that if a majority of employees sign union authorization cards validated by the National Labor Relations Board, the company must recognize the union.

With these three provisions in place, workers wishing to form unions and bargain for a better livelihood for themselves and their families will be effectively shielded from much of the coercion, intimidation, and foot-dragging that thousands of companies engage in each year  …

~From Mike Doyle, Chicago