In his first public remarks since President Bush commuted Scooter Libby's prison term, Judge Reggie Walton said he was "perplexed" by the president's belief that Walton's sentence was "excessive."
Walton, a Bush appointee to the D.C. district court, wrote yesterday in a court filing that while he doesn't question Bush's constitutional authority to commute prison sentences, Libby's 30-month sentence was "consistent with the bottom end of the applicable sentencing range as properly calculated under the United States Sentencing Guidelines." Underscoring his displeasure with the commutation -- which calls his professionalism into question -- Walton referenced Alberto Gonzales's June 1 statement that sentencing guidelines should be considered "a minimum for judges, not merely a suggestion." By ordering the commutation, Walton wrote, Bush has "has effectively rewritten the statutory scheme" for sentencing "on an ad hoc basis." Perhaps appropriately for a Bush appointee, Walton is basically explaining that judicial restraint compelled him to follow the sentencing guidelines -- and that 30 months in jail is rather merciful, considering what the guidelines require.
Libby will have to report to the federal Probation Office with "all requisite haste." If he doesn't, he might actually spend a night in jail.
You can read Walton's statement here.