A Pardon for Arpaio Would Put Trump in Uncharted Territory 

The only effective means courts have to prevent or stop governmental violations of constitutional rights is through injunctions. But injunctions have teeth only when they have the potential of a contempt conviction behind them. In other words, in issuing an injunction, a court is saying, “stop doing that or else.” The “or else” is a criminal conviction for contempt, leading to a fine, imprisonment or both. Absent the “or else,” the injunction is all but meaningless.

But if the president signals to government agents that there exists the likelihood of a pardon when they violate a judicial injunction that blocks his policies, he can all too easily circumvent the only effective means of enforcing constitutional restrictions on his behavior. Indeed, the president could even secretly promise a pardon to agents if they undertake illegal activity he desires.

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