Thursday, July 19, 2007

Meanwhile, Rep. Tancredo (R-CO) offers his own--perhaps unconventional--effort to end the imprisonment of border patrol agents Ramos and Compean:
US Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colorado) today announced plans to offer an amendment to an annual spending bill that would prevent the Bush Administration from using any funds to enforce the judgment or sentences imposed by a federal judge in the case of U.S. vs. Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. If adopted, the amendment would force the release of the two former Border Patrol agents whose case has been the focus of national news for several months.
The justification for this amendment? Tancredo's office says:
Article I of the U.S. Constitution provides Congress with absolute authority over all spending matters. By blocking the use of any funds to enforce the guilty verdict, or to impose the egregious sentence handed down in the Ramos case, Tancredo's amendment would have the effect of freeing the two agents from federal custody.

Interestingly, this approach is not unprecedented:
He [Tancredo] cited a previous example in 2005 in which the House approved an amendment that prevented the administration from using any funding to enforce a court decision barring the display of the Ten Commandments in a public building. Like that amendment, Tancredo's proposed amendment complies with House rules.
To my mind, this amendment could pose some interesting separation-of-powers questions, and this process of denying funding for the incarceration of certain individuals would seem essentially to be a way for Congress to grant de facto pardons (or at least commutations). It certainly raises some executive v. legislative power questions and could have far-ranging implications. Of course, I don't know how much congressional support Tancredo will be able to muster for this measure...