The Law and Order President?

Sheriff Arpaio violated his oath of office and raised the middle finger to the judicial process.

Last Friday, President Trump issued a full pardon to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the controversial Sheriff of Maricopa County who served from 1993 until he failed to gain re-election in 2016.  President Trump characterizes this action as an embodied action of his promise to be the “Law and Order President”.  The President not only granted Sheriff Arpaio a reprieve from prosecution for his alleged crimes, but essentially endorsed the Sheriff’s behaviors by saying such things as,

“Sheriff Joe is a patriot…Sheriff Joe protected our borders.”

“Sheriff Joe is a…great law enforcement person.”

“He’s done a great job for the people of Arizona.”

I disagree with the characterization of President Trump being the “Law and Order President” and I also disagree with the efficacy of Sheriff Arpaio’s pardon.

I view law enforcement as a tremendous mantle of responsibility.  An officer is given the authority to temporarily suspend certain rights in order to investigate a crime and to fully suspend even more rights if it appears likely the crime has occurred.  It is therefore reasonable and just to expect officers to perform their duties within the realm of actual law as passed in legislation and as interpreted by the courts. This means that following the directive of the courts is not only a part of law enforcement, it constitutes a foundational principle for the legitimate exercise of enforcement authority.

Within this context, Sheriff Arpaio had made the reasonable determination that the state of Arizona and Maricopa County were facing unusual damage due to the Federal Government abdicating its responsibility to control our nation’s border.  Based upon this determination, he and his counselors crafted policies designed to enforce immigration law despite the lack of Federal effort.  While these are reasonable concerns, the actual policies they crafted and implemented were not deemed reasonable nor ethical by the courts, who issued an order for Sheriff Arpaio to halt the implementation of such policies.  Sheriff Arpaio disagreed with the court’s decision and continued the policies, claiming it was his Constitutional right to do so as the elected Sheriff by the sovereign people of Maricopa County.

It is my opinion that in doing so, Sheriff Arpaio violated his oath of office and raised the middle finger to the judicial process, even flirting slightly with “sovereign citizen” mentality which, despite his claims, is anti-federalist and unconstitutional.

The courts determined that Sheriff Arpaio had enacted policies which directed sworn officers under his command to detain individuals and suspend their rights where there was no likelihood that a crime had been committed.  They ordered Sheriff Arpaio to desist because he was using ethnicity and language as probable cause for arrest, and they rightly pointed out that language and ethnicity are not proofs of citizenship and therefore cannot be used as proofs for the lack of citizenship.

Refusing a lawful court order is the exact definition of contempt, meaning the courts and its officers had far more probable cause for charging Sheriff Arpaio then he ever had for arresting Hispanics in Maricopa County.  Now, the actual elements of contempt and the nature of the situation, as well as Sheriff Arpaio’s advanced age, would have all been considerations moving forward in the appellate process.  I would even argue there are sufficient grounds for repeal and possibly even retrial.  But we’ll never know.  The just and legal process for determining Sheriff Arpaio’s guilt has been thwarted by a Presidential pardon, and likely has lit a firecracker among barrels of gunpowder.

In my opinion, this pardon does not make President Trump the “Law and Order President”.  In fact, it makes him the opposite.  A “Law and Order President” would place a premium, above all other considerations, on the consideration of law and order.  The law states that the courts have the power to interpret the laws and that the officers of the law must obey their decisions, and order dictates that the process must be respected and justice must be given a chance to have its day.

President Trump could have allowed the process to proceed, allowed the courts, appellate courts, and possibly even the Supreme Court to hear the case and through just deliberation provide closure to the circumstances.  If Arpaio was held guilty in the end, the President could have simply, and much less controversially, commuted Arpaio’s sentence and easily cited Sheriff Arpaio’s advanced age and years of service as grounds for the commuting.  Instead of such a reasonable and equitable approach, the President offered a full pardon which aborted the entire appellate process and has provided grounds for just accusation that Sheriff Arpaio is indeed guilty of prejudice in his policies and that the President not only excuses his behavior but fully endorses it. 

Beyond the foolishness of thwarting the process, it is even more incriminating that this pardon was clearly politically motivated (Unless you’re going to try to tell me President Trump would sign a pardon for a Sheriff held in contempt for continuing to enact “Sanctuary City” policies against a court order).  A President cannot claim to be an advocate of law and order whilst thwarting the process of justice in order to toss red meat to his political followers.  This is about the President’s style as a disruptor and a provocateur, and truly has nothing to do with his respect for the rule of law.

Finally, many of Trump’s followers are making a stink about who appointed which judge, and are demonstrating a willingness to cry the demands of justice or turn a blind eye to justice depending on partisan loyalties.  The words of John Adams, “We are a nation of laws, not men” are being turned upside down by President Trump and his followers who would selectively apply laws upon men they deem their allies and those they deem their enemies.  John Adams was a man of law and order and he saw to the fair trial of British Soldiers despite the mob calling for their blood.   President Trump is demonstrating he is quite the opposite of John Adams…and far from the “Law and Order President” he claims to be.

-The Millennial Federalist


Categories: Executive Review

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