A Pardon For Muhammad Ali Is Neither Needed Nor Warranted

reagan-aliThere has been continued controversy over the penchant of President Donald Trump to pardon celebrities or political figures or, most recently, a woman who was championed by Kim Kardashian.   Today Trump announced that he is considering a pardon for the late boxing sensation Muhammad Ali — not long after he granted a posthumous pardon to boxing legend Jack Johnson (who was advocated for by celebrity Sylvester Stallone).  This case however raises the added curiosity that Ali’s conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court in Clay v. United States403 U.S. 698 (1971)(when Ali was still under his birth name of Cassius Clay).  Obviously, there is no conviction to pardon or commute in this case. In addition to the overturning of the conviction, draft dodgers were given amnesty previously by both Ford and Carter.  

The Clay case has always interested me because of its curious handing by the Supreme Court and the legitimate basis for the draft board and appellate officials to question the basis for Ali’s assertion.

The Clay decision in 1971 overturned the conviction in an 8-0 vote (Thurgood Marshall recused himself because of his earlier involvement with the case as Solicitor General). It was a surprising result due to the underlying law and, as was later revealed, the initial votes of the justices.

Ali notably was declared unfit for service when he first reported for the draft in 1964 because his writing and spelling skills were viewed as sub-standard and raising serious concerns over whether he could fully understand written instructions. However, when the need for recruits increased the following year, those standards were lowered and he was declared 1-A in February 1966. Ali then declared himself to be a conscientious objector as a Muslim. Ali insisted “War is against the teachings of the Holy Qur’an. I’m not trying to dodge the draft. We are not supposed to take part in no wars unless declared by Allah or The Messenger. We don’t take part in Christian wars or wars of any unbelievers.”

That claim from the outset was problematic. Many Muslims were serving in the military and there was considerable scholarly material establishing that Muslims can serve. More importantly, Ali seemed to base his objections not on the threshold requirements of his faith but rather the specific war in Vietnam. Ali famously declared in 1966: “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong . . . They never called me ni**er.”

The draft board in Louisville, Kentucky was understandably skeptical and it referred the case to the Justice Department for an advisory opinion. The DOJ wrote back that Ali did not meet any of the three basic criteria for such a claim. The DOJ’s letter was too dismissive and unfairly rejected the claim on all three elements – an overstatement that would later lead to the overturning the conviction.

After the board rejected his claim, he appealed and lost again in 1967 by a vote of 4-0 in the federal district court in Houston. He then refused to be drafted and was eventually indicted and convicted by a jury of six men and six women. All were white. His conviction was reviewed and upheld by the federal appellate court.

When the case went to the Supreme Court, the reaction of the justice was largely the same. According to later accounts, the eight justices voted 5-3 to uphold the conviction and Justice John Marshall Harlan was given the task of writing the opinion. However, one of Harlan’s clerk’s went outside of the record of the case and gave Harlan literature on the Black Muslim movement and beliefs. Harlan changed his mind and produced a deadlock of 4-4. Eventually, the justices found a technicality to avoid the stalemate: concluding that the Justice Department wrongly dismissed the claim on all three criteria and that Ali did have a credible claim on a couple of the elements.

Ali had to show three elements. First, he had to show that he is conscientiously opposed to war in any form. He then had to show this opposition is based upon religious training and belief. Finally, he had to show that his objection was sincere. It is hard to see that Ali did not have a conscientious objection or that his objection was not sincere. More importantly, the record was not sufficient on the basis for rejecting that claim. However, his religious basis for the opposition was and continues to be highly questionable.

The DOJ letter noted that

“As to the requirement that a registrant must be opposed to war in any form, the Department letter said that the petitioner’s expressed beliefs “do not appear to preclude military service in any form, but rather are limited to military service in the Armed Forces of the United States. . . . These constitute only objections to certain types of war in certain circumstances, rather than a general scruple against participation in war in any form. However, only a general scruple against participation in war in any form can support an exemption as a conscientious objector under the Act. United States v. Kauten, 133 F. 2d 703 . . .

It seems clear that the teachings of the Nation of Islam preclude fighting for the United States not because of objections to participation in war in any form but rather because of political and racial objections to policies of the United States as interpreted by Elijah Muhammad. . . . It is therefore our conclusion that registrant’s claimed objections to participation in war insofar as they are based upon the teachings of the Nation of Islam, rest on grounds which primarily are political and racial.”

That is a good-faith reason for a denial on one of the criteria. However, faced with a deadlock, the Court ruled on the insufficiency of the record:

“Since the Appeal Board gave no reasons for its denial of the petitioner’s claim, there is absolutely no way of knowing upon which of the three grounds offered in the Department’s letter it relied. Yet the Government now acknowledges that two of those grounds were not valid.  And, the Government’s concession aside, it is indisputably clear, for the reasons stated, that the Department was simply wrong as a matter of law in advising that the petitioner’s beliefs were not religiously based and were not sincerely held.”

The Court therefore never ruled that Ali had a valid claim, as is often wrongly reported. Moreover, the Court could have ruled on the sufficiency of the single criteria on the existing record but chose to find an alternative course to secure a unanimous ruling. It was in other words a judicial punt.

With thousands of Muslims serving bravely in our military as well as prior wars, the claim of Ali is both highly dubious and troubling. When we are called to serve, there is an obligation of the government to treat people equally and to enforce the obligation to serve in a consistent manner, including the basis for conscientious objection. While the government did not adequately support its decision on all three criteria, Ali never adequately put forward a clear conscientious objection. If Trump is pardoning Ali because he was unfairly denied a waiver for religious reasons, he should consider the implications for future such claims for our military.


The continued debate over the Clay decision is separate from the fact that Trump would be giving a purely symbolic pardon for a conviction that has already been set aside. Ali was fortunate to have his conviction overturned when much stronger claims were upheld by the courts. A pardon is neither necessary nor warranted for Muhammad Ali.

128 thoughts on “A Pardon For Muhammad Ali Is Neither Needed Nor Warranted”

  1. The Quran states over 130 times to argue gently with the people of the book. That is, Jews and Christians.

    1. David Benson writes “The Quran states over 130 times to argue gently with the people of the book. That is, Jews and Christians.”

      Argue gently noting that “Muslims must not take the infidels as friends.” 2:191, “The Jews and Christians are perverts” 9:30 and realize that “Any religion other than Islam is not acceptable.” 3:85. “Maim and crucify the infidels if they criticize Islam.” 5:33 but when that doesn’t work. “Slay the unbelievers wherever you find them.”2:191.

      I think David you should go back to Weart and not trouble yourself with matters of importance.

      Let me add what the Muslim Brotherhood has to say:

      This is a quote from the Muslim Brotherhood Memorandum presented at the Holy Land Trial.

      Take special note of “destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house”

      “4- Understanding the role of the Muslim Brother in North America:
      The process of settlement is a “Civilization-JihadistProcess” with all the word means. The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions. Without this level of understanding, we are not up to this challenge and have not prepared ourselves for Jihad yet. It is a Muslim’s destiny to perform Jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes, and there is no escape from that destiny except for those who chose to slack. But, would the slackers and the Mujahedeen be equal. ”

      The entire Muslim Brotherhood Memorandum can be seen in Arabic and English here http://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/misc/20.pdf

  2. “penchant”? The man has pardoned what – 7 people? That does not a ‘penchant’ make.

    However, he made a brilliant proposal to the whiny racist attention-seeking athletes: you think there’s injustice – prove it – bring me cases for review.

    This is a man that walks the talk and he expects incessant social justice whiners to put up or shut up.
    I would expect thousands of commutations and pardons are forthcoming. Righting wrongs. Politics of redemption…….it’s a beautiful thing…..

  3. If you twist a wet rag to wring the water out of it, and if you keep on twisting that wet rag but good, then you will reach a point beyond which the entire longitudinal axis around which you have been twisting that wet rag becomes, itself, twisted. If you keep twisting beyond that point, then you might get a second or even a third axial twist in the rag before there’s no more space left between your left hand and right hand for any further axial twists in the rag to occupy.

    I mention this, because that is what Trump is doing to us. Yes. We are the wet rag. And Trump is twisting us well beyond mere SNAFU and well down the road to FUBAR. Allow me to translate:

    Trump “thinks” (in the pretzel logic of his law-and-order mindset) that every time Trump pardons someone, he is “obstructing justice.” Trump “thinks” that The Constitution gives Trump “the power to obstruct justice” by dint of giving Trump “the power to pardon.”

    Trump ought to think that the pardon power should be used to correct, or to prevent, an injustice; or to serve the interests of mercy, or to quell a rebellion in the interests of domestic tranquility. Those thoughts about the pardon power would fit Trump’s notion of an unjust, rigged investigation seen as a partisan political witch hunt far better than the pretzel logic of Trump’s equation of the pardon power with the supposed constitutional authority to obstruct justice. But Trump can’t think what he’s supposed to think. Trump can only think in that law-and-order mindset of his which tells him that all Presidential grants of reprieve or pardon are instantiations of constitutionally-authorized Presidential obstructions of justice. And Trump wants us to think that, too. Resist the twisting of your wet rags before its too late.

    1. “If you twist a wet rag to wring the water out of it…” Diane will scream loud. The world will go on not stop. Life will remain good.

  4. NutzIsIgnorant understands neither the Quran nor Conscientious Objector law. Makes Stuff Up.

    1. I understand both satisfactorily. You don’t, because senile.

      1. “Satisfactorily” That is, almost not at all.

        Doesn’t look like you have read the Quran. Doesn’t look like you have actually read the Conscientious Objector case law.

        Bloviation, I call it.

        1. Doesn’t look like you have read the Quran. Doesn’t look like you have actually read the Conscientious Objector case law.

          I’m familiar with the initial case. More humbug from the Warren Court.

          It doesn’t matter what pretense you’re electing to adopt this morning, or what false claims you’re making about your liberal education. Pacifism is not an architectural feature of Islam.

            1. Sayeth the man who hasn’t bothered to produce a requested reference from the OED.

              You’d give me a quote if you had one. Islamic scholars have developed a bevy of interpretive rules to adjudicate between apparently contradictory precepts in the Korah, Hadith, and Sharia, so it’s not like there isn’t raw material for proof-texting.

              I did once know a Muslim who claimed to be a pacifist. His particular book is Sufi literature. Skewering this man is one of Robert Spencer’s hobbies, though I don’t think Spencer makes proper sense of him.

              1. Wikipedia per Nii’s request from Dr, Benson:

                The Arabic word salaam (سلام) (“secured, pacified, submitted”) originates from the same root as the word Islam. One Islamic interpretation is that individual personal peace is attained by utterly submitting to Allah.

                The ideal society, according to the Qur’an is Dar as-Salam, literally, “the house of peace” of which it intones: And Allah invites to the ‘abode of peace’ and guides whom He pleases into the right path.

                According to Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, there will be an era in which justice, plenty, abundance, well-being, security, peace, and brotherhood will prevail among humanity, and one in which people will experience love, self-sacrifice, tolerance, compassion, mercy, and loyalty. Muhammad said that this blessed period will be experienced through the mediation of the Mahdi, who will come in the end times to save the world from chaos, injustice, and moral collapse. He will eradicate godless ideologies and bring an end to the prevailing injustice. Moreover, he will make religion like it was in the days of Muhammad, cause the Qur’an’s moral teachings to prevail among humanity, and establish peace and well-being throughout the world.

                1. Koran 2:191 “Slay the unbelievers wherever you find them.”

                  Koran 8:12 “Terrorize and behead those who believe in scriptures other than the Koran”

                  Koran 22:19 “Punish the unbelievers with garments of fire., hooked iron rods, boiling water, melt their skin and bellies.”

                  …And for you Diane, Koran 2:223 “A woman is a chattel in marriage, and can be forced to have sex.”

            2. It doesn’t matter whether NII or anyone else has read the Quran, because in 1966 Ali was an adherent of the Nation of Islam, a sect founded by American blacks who seemed to have little understanding of traditional Islam. The Nation of Islam was and is a cult that is more about race and politics than classic Quaranic teachings. Note that Ali declared that “we are not supposed to take part in no wars unless declared by Allah or The Messenger.” A real Muslim would know that “The Messenger” (Mohammad) was a living, breathing person, who has been dead for around 2,000 years, so he’s not going to be declaring any wars. And a real Muslim would know that he is expected to participate in wars declared by the head of whatever country he resides in, and that if he lives in a Muslim country and refuses military service, the consequences are not pretty. So the issue here is whether Ali’s religious views were genuine, not whether they were correctly aligned with traditional Islam. I don’t know that the founder of the Nation of Islam really cared that his new religion departed from that created by the Arabs, he likely wasn’t familiar with the tradional religions of sub-Saharan Africa and was trying to come up with something that he thought wasn’t a “white” religion; obviously never having been to the Balkans.

              1. After Elijah Muhammed died, his son inherited the organization and committed it to the orthodox Sunni program. He also changed its name. A faction lead by Louis Farrakhan split off and took the original name and Elijah Muhammed’s unique teachings. Ali adhered to W. D. Muhammed’s much larger outfit, not to Farrakhan’s.

                Elijah Muhammed had refused induction during the 2d World War and was sent to prison.

  5. Did you say, “Muhammad Ali?”

    Fun facts:

    “In a wide-ranging 1968 interview with Bud Collins, the storied Boston Globe sports reporter, Ali insisted that it was as unnatural to expect blacks and whites to live together as it would be to expect humans to live with wild animals. “I don’t hate rattlesnakes, I don’t hate tigers — I just know I can’t get along with them,” he said. “I don’t want to try to eat with them or sleep with them.”

    Collins asked: “You don’t think that we can ever get along?”

    “I know whites and blacks cannot get along; this is nature,” Ali replied. That was why he liked George Wallace, the segregationist Alabama governor who was then running for president. Collins wasn’t sure he’d heard right.

    “You like George Wallace?”

    “Yes, sir,” said Ali. “I like what he says. He says blacks shouldn’t force themselves in white neighborhoods, and white people shouldn’t have to move out of the neighborhood just because one black comes. Now that makes sense.”

    This was not some inexplicable aberration. It reflected a hateful worldview that Ali, as a devotee of Elijah Muhammad and the segregationist Nation of Islam, espoused for years. At one point, he even appeared before a Ku Klux Klan rally. It was “a heck of a scene,” he later boasted —

    Clansmen with hoods, a burning cross, “and me on the platform,” preaching strict racial separation.

    “Black people should marry their own women,” Ali declaimed. “Bluebirds with bluebirds, red birds with red birds, pigeons with pigeons, eagles with eagles.

    God didn’t make no mistake!”

  6. FWIW – a few weeks ago I watched “Hacksaw Ridge” It was about Desmond Thomas Dossa, a CO (7th Day Adventist) who served in WWII – the Battle of Okinawa.

    “Medal of Honor Citation: He was a company aid man when the 1st Battalion assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet high As our troops gained the summit, a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and machinegun fire crashed into them, inflicting approximately 75 casualties and driving the others back. Pfc. Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying them 1 by 1 to the edge of the escarpment and there lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff to friendly hands. On 2 May, he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards forward of the lines on the same escarpment; and 2 days later he treated 4 men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to within 8 yards of enemy forces in a cave’s mouth, where he dressed his comrades’ wounds before making 4 separate trips under fire to evacuate them to safety. On 5 May, he unhesitatingly braved enemy shelling and small arms fire to assist an artillery officer. He applied bandages, moved his patient to a spot that offered protection from small arms fire and, while artillery and mortar shells fell close by, painstakingly administered plasma. Later that day, when an American was severely wounded by fire from a cave, Pfc. Doss crawled to him where he had fallen 25 feet from the enemy position, rendered aid, and carried him 100 yards to safety while continually exposed to enemy fire. On 21 May, in a night attack on high ground near Shuri, he remained in exposed territory while the rest of his company took cover, fearlessly risking the chance that he would be mistaken for an infiltrating Japanese and giving aid to the injured until he was himself seriously wounded in the legs by the explosion of a grenade. Rather than call another aid man from cover, he cared for his own injuries and waited 5 hours before litter bearers reached him and started carrying him to cover. The trio was caught in an enemy tank attack and Pfc. Doss, seeing a more critically wounded man nearby, crawled off the litter; and directed the bearers to give their first attention to the other man. Awaiting the litter bearers’ return, he was again struck, this time suffering a compound fracture of 1 arm. With magnificent fortitude he bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and then crawled 300 yards over rough terrain to the aid station. Through his outstanding bravery and unflinching determination in the face of desperately dangerous conditions Pfc. Doss saved the lives of many soldiers. His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty.”

    1. It’s a pity that the memory of such a fine American patriot is sullied and used by those who would enable a traitor to befoul the White House and sell out American security to the highest bidder for a hotel deal and to keep a blackmail tape under wraps.

      this is to “but I really do hate America” autumn

      1. Take your meds Marky Mark You want traitors – look at all the Dim House members who availed themselves of Awan’s services, a SOS who used a private email server and made deals with foreign entities including (gasp!) Russia to enrich the Clinton Foundation bank account and her aid Huma who had classified information on the laptop she shared with her perve of a husband……………

  7. I don’t know about TDS, but the Professor is certainly obsessed with President Trump.

    1. FFS,
      Trump stories sell to the anti-Trump crowd. It’s Friday and he needs their attention through the weekend. Perhaps he’ll get around to the Obama/Iranian money-laundering, Clinton/DNC money-laundering and the DNC/Imran Awan cluster-*uck.

      1. I would suggest that Turley apparently doesn’t pay attention to Pravda Faux News, and thus like all rational persons, realizes that wackjob conspiracy theories propagated by loser/loners with a blog and are completely detached from “evidence” (googe it) don’t merit any note except to ridicule their adherents. Consider yourself noted.

        this is to “but, but, what about BENGHAZI!” olly

        1. LOL! You suggest a lot of things and always in response to comments that have been validated and reported by multiple sources. Your tell is your comment is short of facts and long on ad hominem. You could save yourself time and just shout FU. 🙂

          1. Don’t misunderstand; I most assuredly am saying exactly that. My endeavor however is to do so while entertaining myself and the other appreciative onlookers.

            this is to “now enlightened” olly

          1. Words of wisdom in some reality I’m sure. Now about those microwaves aimed at your underwear drawer….

            this is to “on Fridays, I just pour the meds out on the coffee table and start poppin em pot-luck style” georgie

            1. Fried catfish that have not been breaded are indecently exposed by George’s community standards. Although, it’s not immediately clear how much the tides effect the typical catfish pond in George’s neck of the woods.

              If this message seems too obscure, then please recall your use of the terms Fridays and pot-luck meds.

  8. With thousands of Muslims serving bravely in our military as well as prior wars, the claim of Ali is both highly dubious and troubling.

    What is your point?

    That Muslims should not be eligible for conscientious objector status because other Muslims have served in combat?

    There are/were millions of Christians/Catholics/Jews/Buddhists (etc) serving bravely in our military as well as prior wars and persons practicing those religions were/are eligible for conscientious objector status.

    1. You apparently did not read and/or don’t understand the article.

      Clay claimed CO status. In the same breath he admits, if someone named Muhammad (through his local Black Muslim prophet, Clay’s Islamic Pope) ordered Clay to kill, Clay would seek and kill the intended subject post haste.

      Clay’s CO status request was instead solely a political statement. If Clay’s Black Muslim prophet was POTUS, Clay would immediately kill any race, religion, group of people Clay’s “Prophet” told him to kill, including innocent civilians, just like any good soldier.

      The next Roman Catholic apologist you meet, ask him/her this: St. Thomas Aquinas justifies war “when there is no other option.” A logical problem ensues. Per the Church, surrender is always a Church-authorized option to avoid war. Do the math. The ever present option to war is to surrender (see the movie, “The Mouse That Roared.”)

      Also, suppose a Catholic is the pilot of a nuclear armed US military aircraft, and POTUS orders said pilot to do X, which X shall positively immediately turn the Pope, all his Cardinals, and all the entire Vatican into nuclear char and dust. By the Church’s so-called “Just War Theory,” such pilot performs God’s will. Ya’ll sure about that Mr. Pope?

      I call horse manure on both points above. If you’re a Catholic who kills for the King (military or even a police officer), you need to get new employment now. If you’re not a Christian nor a Catholic, you have no religion-based mandate to not kill, though an atheist could still be a CO.

      Which brings us full circle back to Clay. An analogy for Clay is to imagine an atheist claiming CO, but who said in the same breath he’d kill someone for stealing his car. Sorry, that guy needs to do prison time or wear his uniform and strap on his gun.

      1. Ali was one of the greatest Americans of our lifetime; you not so much.

        1. “Ali was one of the greatest Americans of our lifetime; you not so much.”

          YNOT, Ali was a great boxer who could barely read or write, much like you.

          1. Nice. someone of your ilk imagines he can assess Muhammad Ali? Pro tip: now go get your shine box.

            this is to “delusions of grandeur make the night sweats go away” allan

            1. If I’m not mistaken, psychometric tests administered to Ali in his prime scored him below the 11th percentile of the general population. That was before parkinsonism rendered him demented.

              1. Ali’s Selective Service exam showed an IQ of 78.
                He graduated about 375th out of a class of c.390.
                They passed himover
                untilthe big buildup in Vietnamrequired more and more draftees……I think the issue of revised lower standards is mentioned in the JT column.

                1. Robert McNamara had a project of recruiting and training people who would ordinarily have been excluded by the military’s psychometric testing. IIRC, about 200,000 were enlisted in this program. Supposedly, those assigned to train these recruits referred to them as ‘McNamara’s morons’. I don’t recall when the program was discontinued. I think Linda Gottriedson has written that it’s now required by law that recruits score above the 10th percentile and that during the Clinton administration it was policy not to accept as recruits those below the 14th percentile.

              2. How many Mensa members have come up with lines like these?

                I’ve wrestled with alligators.
                I’ve tussled with a whale.
                I done handcuffed lightning.
                And throw’d thunder in jail.

                Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
                The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see.
                —Muhammad Ali

              3. If Ali says a mosquito can pull a plow,
                don’t ask how!
                Hitch him up.
                —Muhammad Ali as quoted by George Plimpton

                To make America the greatest is my goal
                So I beat the Russian and I beat the Pole
                And for the USA won the medal of gold.
                The Greeks said you’re better than the Cassius of old.

                We like your name, we like your game.
                So make Rome your home if you will.
                I said I appreciate your kind hospitality,
                But the USA is my country still,
                ‘Cause they’re waiting to welcome me in Louisville.
                —Muhammad Ali

              4. I like your show
                and I like your style,
                but your pay’s so bad
                I won’t be back for a while!
                —Muhammad Ali

                Everyone knew when I stepped in town,
                I was the greatest fighter around.
                A lot of people called me a clown,
                But I am the one who called the round.
                The people came to see a great fight,
                But all I did was put out the light.
                Never put your money against Cassius Clay,
                For you will never have a lucky day.
                —Muhammad Ali

            2. Mark, Ali had some marvelous quips though his reading and writing skills were well below normal.

              You and he have something in common though Ali’s quips were funny.

      2. Also, suppose a Catholic is the pilot of a nuclear armed US military aircraft, and POTUS orders said pilot to do X, which X shall positively immediately turn the Pope, all his Cardinals, and all the entire Vatican into nuclear char and dust. By the Church’s so-called “Just War Theory,” such pilot performs God’s will. Ya’ll sure about that Mr. Pope?

        You’re out of your depth.

    2. That Muslims should not be eligible for conscientious objector status because other Muslims have served in combat?

      Pretty much, that’s true. Pacifism is not an integral feature of Islam. Quite the opposite is the case.

      1. Jesus is the second prophet of Islam.

        Don’t be so confident about that which you know little.

        1. You’re admonishing me, and you know nothing at all. Pacifism isn’t an integral feature of mere Christianity, either, just a selection of sects.

          1. There are more examples besides Sufism at the link above. The Egyptian Revolution of 1919 is reputed to be the world’s first successful instance of non-violent civil disobedience.

            P. S. Enabling Dr. Benson remains an honor and a privilege.

            1. P. S. Enabling Dr. Benson remains an honor and a privilege.

              Yeah, what the world needs now is more septuagenarian twerps.

  9. But, Jon, you don’t understand: Trump needs to generate publicity, as much as humanly possible. He could give a crap less whether Cassius Clay or Muhammad Ali sincerely held religious beliefs that precluded military service, and didn’t even notice the little, critical detail that the conviction was set aside so there’s nothing to pardon. He wants to hitch his wagon to Ali’s star. He wants to exercise that power he cheated, lied and colluded to get. He wants to be a hero. He wants attention. He wants those cameras on his fat ass. What a loser, or as Ali would say: what a chump!

    1. Natacha, you’re right that he is just blowing smoke, but ya know he’s got bigger fish to fry, like breaking trade with our allies and getting Russia and China more jobs.

    2. He wants to exercise that power he cheated, lied and colluded to get.

      ‘cheated, lied, colluded’ in natacha-speak is what normal people call ‘won a free and competitive election’.

  10. Pardon John Kiriakou. He went to prison for whistleblowing about the illegal US torture program. While Trump is at it, he can give trials to the detainees at Gitmo and/or let them return home.

    Trump seems like one of the cruelest “leaders” around the planet. What he’s doing to illegal immigrant children should be investigated by the international red cross. It’s just weird that people think he’s a great guy for handing out pardons. He’s a mass incarerator. That most definitely does not make him a good person.


    Why is this detention center for children off limits from scrutiny and having blacked out windows?

    P.S. Obama was just as bad about each of these issues.

    1. I think Jill must advocate that we open the jails. Why? There are American citizens that broke the law and were placed in jail separated from their children. Jill is claiming that is not fair or she is claiming that illegal aliens should be considered more important than our own citizens.

      1. You’re suggesting Jill weigh the implications of what she advocates. Jill doesn’t do that, because Jill’s advocacy is a witless self-aggrandizing exercise. Jill doesn’t think like someone who has ever had serious responsibilities.

    2. He went to prison for exposing the identity of a CIA officer, which is a crime.

      Waterboarding is not torture.

    3. Great post Jill. I would add to that call off the vendetta against Julian Assange. Let that man waik free.

  11. Maybe it means something to the athlete’s family. In that case, it isn’t needless or unwarranted.

  12. ” Ali insisted “War is against the teachings of the Holy Qur’an. I’m not trying to dodge the draft. We are not supposed to take part in no wars unless declared by Allah or The Messenger. We don’t take part in Christian wars or wars of any unbelievers.””

    Basing the claim on a religion one adheres to has drawbacks since there are so many interpretations of any religion that exists and that I believe was recognized by the Supreme Court in an earlier case. In that case, the draft board had a number of Jewish members on the panel and refused to give a Jewish man CO status because they said that their religion didn’t prevent him from serving. In the end I believe it is not one’s religion that counts rather one’s personal beliefs and I believe that is what the man’s case rested on. The draft board was overruled.

    1. In the end I believe it is not one’s religion that counts rather one’s personal beliefs and I believe that is what the man’s case rested on. The draft board was overruled.

      That’s a bad standard. CO status was a courtesy granted to certain sects for whom pacifism is architectonic. It isn’t in the least for Islam. Those who qualify are generally descendants of early modern anabaptist outfits: Brethren, Mennonite, Amish, Quaker. Ali’s claim was bogus. So was Bernie Sanders’.

      1. A wide variety of people have qualified for CO status, including Christians who are members of churches which don’t generally requiring abstaining from war. It doesn’t even require that the objection stem from religion. An ethical or moral position that has the force of religion for the individual is sufficient.

        1. Actually, the odious Warren Court imposed their own standards on draft boards, trumping statutory law. Prior to about 1968, CO status was awarded selectively to people who met defined criteria. That was as it should be. Appellate judges are commonly swine.

      2. NII, you can believe what you wish about what is or is not a bad standard but in the end, it revolves around the individual’s personal morality and beliefs.

        During the Vietnam War, a Sergent declared CO status and was denied such status while he was in the army. based on his own beliefs. It went to the Supreme Court and he won. Most claims are rejected but at the time where substantive claims existed many of those people’s lives were investigated to help assess the validity.

        1. Allan, NII could care less about any facts, his opinion is his facts. Also his tinfoil is wearing thin and used.

          1. FishWings, though I have had my fair share of disagreements with NII, even where I disagree his facts are reasonably correct and his opinion is based on a solid background.

            1. As soon as someone inquires about your “relationship” with the nutty sufferer, I’m sure the peanut gallery shall refer them to this post. I’ll wager they’ll contact you at some point. Just wait by the phone.

              this is to “sure, he’s a buffoon, but we are often on the same side” allan

              1. I just say things as I see them, Mark. You are the clown on the blog whose persona is perfect for one that has nothing to say.

        2. in the end, it revolves around the individual’s personal morality and beliefs.

          Again, that was an innovation of our odious Supreme Court. It should not be. CO status is properly awarded to people who manifest communal affiliations and a certain manner of living, not to Joe Blow asserting his ‘personal beliefs’.

          1. That is your opinion, however, one’s personal thoughts need not be the same feeling of a larger group. That doesn’t mean that the burden of proof doesn’t rest with the one making the claim.

        3. During the Vietnam War, a Sergent declared CO status and was denied such status while he was in the army. based on his own beliefs. It went to the Supreme Court and he won.

          And, in a just world where judges knew their place, he’d have lost. Your point is…?

          1. If I may, his “point” exists here in the real world. Of course, your mileage may vary in the universe in which you inhabit.

            this is to the nutty sufferer

    2. Allan,…
      “Ali had to show three elements. First, he had to be conscientiously opposed to war in any form”.
      Moral opposition to ALL wars was required for CO status.
      Considering or labeling a war as a Christian war was the reason why Ali’s CO status was shot down at every level, before the 1971 Scotus decision.
      And as JT points out, “The court therefore never ruled that Ali had a valid claim”.

      1. One doesn’t expect the Supreme Court on a case like this to come up with a very wide opinion. CO status was determined by a board of citizens where the person is registered. The majority of claims, I believe, have to do with how the board acted and how they judged the case. Since it is a board of citizens there was a lot of leeway for the board to make its decision. I’m not certain that the requirements stated are the exact requirements. In any event CO status generally means the person will be moved from where he is living to another location where he will serve some type of alternate service.

        1. In any event CO status generally means the person will be moved from where he is living to another location where he will serve some type of alternate service.

          The fellow I knew granted CO status without any Mennonite or Quaker affiliation worked as an emergency room registrar in a moderately affluent town a five hour drive from where he’d grown up.

  13. Trump is on a roll to take black voters from the Dems, prior to his run for re-election. Better to pardon Ali than Cosby.

  14. Firstly, this is Turley rubbing himself raw again from his pigeon hole perspective of the law for the law’s sake. The reason Ali’s conviction was overturned eventually is that it became more and more apparent as the Viet Nam War went on that it was immoral, unconscionable, and wrong in every way. Three million Vietnamese were slaughtered. More ordinance was dropped on Vietnam than in both WW1 and WW2 combined. This was a grab for power by the United States at the expense of a people who simply wanted to run their own lives. Given the corruption and incompetence illustrated by the South Vietnamese puppet governments, the country would have been better off if the French had of kept their word and allowed an election after WW2. Draft dodgers were granted amnesty when this travesty became known for what it was. The Supreme Court simply had an honest and real perspective. This perspective was exhibited almost every where in the world except in the White House and the armaments industries.

    1. The White House of Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter created the amnesty programs for the evaders who thankfully were allowed back to the US from Canada. Their amnesties had nothing to do with the Supreme Court.

      1. No, they should have been left to rot in Trudeaupian Cannuckistan if they weren’t willing to face the music. Gerald Ford composed a program of ‘earned re-entry’, which allowed self-exiles to return if they performed community service. Carter made a mockery of that by issuing a blanket pardon.

        1. Face the music, you mean slaughter innocent women and children. Of the approximately three million Vietnamese that were killed in this Franco/American last gasp colonial adventure, almost two million were innocent civilians. Kind of like the recent facing of the music in Iraq. Hopefully your kind will go the way of the Dodo. Civilization does not need any more like you. The reason why the Vietnam War/killing stopped was because the more evolved Americans out voted the lesser evolved ones. Avoiding war because you don’t want to be killed is nothing like avoiding war because you don’t want to kill innocents.

          1. You traffick in fictions and are childish to boot.

              1. You’re still lying and you’re not only puerile but uncreative at it as well.

                1. The Vietnam war came to an end for The United States because there was no way for us to win that war, because the NVA and VC were not going to stop fighting us no matter how many of them we killed and you don’t win anything if you kill all of the enemy. In fact, you forfeit your decent respect for the opinions of mankind if you kill all of the enemy.

                  P. S. Isaac doesn’t lie. And L4D has worn Army boots her entire life.

                  1. Yes. That’s right. L4D was born with size 7&1/2 feet. L4D learned to walk when she was just two minutes old. The doctor who spanked L4D’s buttocks had to have his jaw wired shut for six months. Now you know what a lie reads like. Now apply that knowledge to the statements “No collusion. No obstruction.”

                  2. Read some history. The war was not lost, rather given up. Even the Vietnamese never thought they would win but were counting on the press to change public opinion.

                    Look at Vietnam today. When one travels from north to south one notes how oppressive the northern part is and how it tolerates the southern part that supplies the needed capital and resources.

                    1. L4d said, “The Vietnam war came to an end for The United States because there was no way for us to win that war.”

                      Allaninny said, “Read some history. The war was not lost, rather given up.”

                      Once again Allaninny practices refutation by illiterate paraphrase. For Allaninny the phrase “the war came to end” supposedly meant “the war was lost,” which Allaninny attempts to refute by claiming that the war was “given up,” instead, which is supposed to mean something other than “the war came to an end.” Now hear this, Allaninny: Pfpfpffpfpfpfppfptt! That’s the sound of Allaninny’s brain posting on the Turley blawg.

                    2. Diane, you don’t know what you are talking about and it is a pure waste of time to have any dialogue with a person that gets things wrong time after time and forgets about it. Furthermore, just below NII wrote the most basic things I would say.

                      Keep up with the stupidity Diane. Eventually, even you will realize how stupid you sound.

                  3. Irrelevant.

                    And wrong, too. The VietCong was destroyed as an effective military force in 1968. The government in South VietNam fell to a conventional invasion by the North Vietnam army, an invasion which might have been stopped in its tracks with requisite American assistance. Congress insisted no money be expended toward that end. If one can identify a point where the Democratic Party ceased to want accomplishments and was willing to forego them in favor of acquiring talking points, that was the point.

                    1. Nii says that Nixon and Kissinger had nothing to do with ending the Vietnam War. Nii says that Nixon’s secret plan to achieve peace with honor (by means of resuming the bombing of Hanoi as well as defoliating and bombing the Ho Chi Minh trail while extending the war to Cambodia and Laos) could have won the Vietnam War without killing all of the North Vietnamese people who were never going to surrender to us no matter how many of them we killed. Near the end of our involvement in the Vietnam War, our troops were killing 26 enemy combatants for every one of our troops killed in action. And still the NVA and the VC refused to stop fighting and dying. Nii further says that The POTUS Nixon was powerless against the “talking points” of The Democratic Party. Nii is preposterously shameless in both denial and equivocation.

                    2. Again, the VietCong was wrecked as a military force and inconsequential after 1968. No matter how much you admire the North VietNam Army, they weren’t indestructible in 1975 or at any other time.

                    3. More shamelessness from Nii.

                      L4D does not admire the NVA.

                      They were never going to surrender.

                      You can’t win a war by killing all of the enemy.

                    4. Diane writes re the North Vietnamese: “They were never going to surrender.”

                      They said that about the Japanese as well. Go read a book and learn some history.

                    5. Wouldn’t matter if they ‘surrendered’ or not. Bombed to pieces and chased back over the 1954 armistice line would have done quite nicely. North Korea has never ‘surrendered’ either.

                    6. What has failed to be clearly stated is that (good or bad) the Democratic Congress refused the funding so that the US could not uphold its side of the deal in maintaining the independence of South Vietnam.

                    7. Excerpted from the article linked above:

                      “The peace settlement enabled the United States to withdraw from the war and welcome the American prisoners of war back home. Neither of the Vietnamese parties abided by the settlement, however, and the war continued.”

                      The Democrats in Congress didn’t end US involvement the Vietnam war. Nixon and Kissinger did. Resuming the B-52 strikes would not have changed the outcome in 1975 any more than those bombings had changed the outcome from 1969 through 1973.

                    8. Allaninny said, “Diane writes re the North Vietnamese: ‘They were never going to surrender.’

                      They said that about the Japanese as well. Go read a book and learn some history.”

                      Take note Allaninny: Nobody is accusing you of never having read a history book about the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. L4D is, however, accusing Allaninny of finding fault with Nixon and Kissinger for not having used nuclear weapons against Hanoi for the sake of achieving “peace with honor.”

                    9. “L4D is, however, accusing Allaninny of finding fault with Nixon and Kissinger for not having used nuclear weapons against Hanoi for the sake of achieving “peace with honor.”

                      The only problem, Diane, is that I didn’t suggest we use nuclear weapons. You always provide extraneous or untrue arguments to bolster the foolish things you say. The North Vietnamese army was defeated in their last offensive. There was no need to use nuclear weapons like we did in Japan that probably saved countless of lives. All that was needed (good or bad) was for the Democrats in Congress to abide by the deal and fund the needed expenditures. The Democrats didn’t. They violated the treaty.

                      Go read a book, Diane.

                    10. The relentlessly oblivious one said, “What has failed to be clearly stated is that (good or bad) the Democratic Congress refused the funding so that the US could not uphold its side of the deal in maintaining the independence of South Vietnam.”

                      From the article linked above:

                      “Both sides understood this to mean the recommitment of B–52s to combat. In the end, these commitments were not upheld due to a combination of factors—domestic and Congressional reluctance to re-engage in the war, economic constraints, and finally the Watergate scandal, which weakened and distracted Nixon.”

                      Well, Allaninny, which part was not clearly stated? That the Democrats controlled Congress? That the US economy was in a shambles? That Nixon was embroiled in the Watergate scandal? Or that the B-52 strikes were utterly ineffectual at winning the war when armed with conventional warheads? Time to drop the big one–eh Allaninny? Did the Democrats in Congress refuse to fund the nuking of Hanoi?

                    11. “which part was not clearly stated? ”

                      It is not that the part isn’t stated, rather the part is hidden by all the rubbish you add to any dialog.

                      We had a treaty with a division line which meant that South Vietnam and American forces would be in a defensive position rather than an offensive position. Defensive positions require a fraction of the costs, manpower, and firepower that an offensive war requires. The North Vietnam forces had already been mostly destroyed so a defensive war required little and all those things you mention are merely a distraction to point away from your ignorance. The Democrats refused to fund anything and refused to honor the treaty or demonstrate a strong resolve which may have been all that was needed. The Democrats (for good or bad) decided to close their eyes to the treaty and simply walk away.

                    12. Allaninny said, “The North Vietnamese army was defeated in their last offensive.”

                      Allaninny also said, “. . .the US could not uphold its side of the deal in maintaining the independence of South Vietnam.”

                      Clearly and distinctly Allaninny is not saying that the “defeated” North Vietnamese were through fighting the war after their “last offensive.” Because, if that were true, then there would have been no need for the US to uphold its side of the deal in maintaining the independence of South Vietnam. Therefore, Allaninny must be stating that Nixon’s Vietnamization of the war failed to defeat the North Vietnamese by failing to prevent their final offensive. If only Nixon hadn’t resigned The Presidency–eh Allaninny?

                    13. Diane, if only you could interpret another’s words honestly and correctly you might seem a bit more intelligent to those that know their history.

                      The treaty was not a win-win for either side rather it was a solution to end the fighting. The North Vietnamese army was destroyed but that does not mean that they couldn’t still fight or rebuild. They could but they couldn’t wage the same type of offensive they waged in the last major battle that they lost.

                      That means that the defense of the treaty was well within the capability of the South Vietnamese with some assistance from the US. I am only saying that the Democrats refused to fund actions well within American ability so that the treaty could be upheld. You are saying a lot more but most of it is untrue or irrelevant.

  15. trump pardoning Ali is a symbolic pardoning of trump. Ali used the conscientious objection route, which may or may not be legitimate, while trump used the bone spur deferment route 5 times to avoid service. In pardoning Ali, trump is symbolically, not legally, pardoning himself. trump is starting with this moral pardon of himself in order to get his cult minions comfortable for when he pardons himself from the crimes the Mueller probe exposes.

    1. while trump used the bone spur deferment route 5 times to avoid service.

      He was granted a I-Y deferment in mid-1968. Lloyd Blankfein wouldn’t hire you because you cannot count.

  16. The hysterical among us need to read Professor Turley’s article before they comment.

    He is absolutely correct that it is not needed but he does acknowledge that it is a symbolic gesture.
    Other Presidents have issued apologies for things like slavery, segregation, internment, without causing all of this phony furor.
    Just another example of people overreacting because of their irrational hatred of the current occupant of the White House

    1. There’s nothing irrational about hatred of the current occupant of the White House. He has earned our contempt. I won’t deny him what he deserves.

      1. I wouldn’t expect an irrational person to perceive his own irrationality.

        1. Another irrational person who isn’t very perceptive and could be confused with roadkill.

  17. Just another example of Trump shooting his mouth off when he has no idea what the hell he is talking about.

      1. That’s right, he’s a conservative white guy. What would he know about being cool with the black folks. Sorry Peter that President Trump has the gall to encroach on your plantation.

          1. So what’s next? An avalanche of clips of old white guys acknowledging that the day glo bozo is an incompetent imbecile POS nazi-wannabee?

      2. Listen to Candace Owens who is threatened and attacked leading to a rapid change from being a Liberal to a conservative in about three minutes. She was threatened by “hitmen” after a call from someone that wanted her to end her Kickstarter campaign to end Internet bullying. What happened was the left became terrified and reacted leaving her with thousands of threats just minutes after she refuses to end her Kickstarter campaign.

        Her story is evidence “the Liberals are the racists”.

        Worth at least the first 10 minutes and then decide.

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