Karen Hobert Flynn, President, Common Cause
President Trump’s pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio is a clear and dangerous abuse of power, worthy of censure by Congress.
The pardon signals immigration officials and law enforcement officers across the nation that the president will have their back if they follow Sheriff Arpaio’s example of defying rather than enforcing the law. It’s also a rebuke of Maricopa County voters, who turned Arpaio out of office last fall after a campaign focused on his abusive and illegal treatment of Latinos.
Two federal judges have concluded that Arpaio willfully disregarded court orders that he stop his deputies from detaining Latinos based solely on suspicions that they might be in the U.S. illegally. The president’s sworn duty “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution” is not a license to undermine our courts and invite law enforcement officers to violate their orders.
At Sheriff Arpaio’s direction, Maricopa County deputies detained and abused thousands of Latinos, trampling on their constitutional rights. He and his subordinates racially profiled Latinos as a matter of standard policy and practice - one of the many forms of institutionalized racism that has disproportionally and unjustly filled this nation’s jail cells with people of color.
The sheriff took an oath to enforce the law. He and the president are now united in their contempt for the law and their disregard for their sworn obligations.