Oh, pardon me, I didn’t mean to reveal yet again my corrupt use of executive prerogative

So, can a US President pardon a convict who had generously given to the President’s party, and after a direct lobbying campaign on behalf of the convict himself? Yes, he can.

But can a US President revoke a pardon after it becomes too embarrassing even for him? That is less clear.

It is well past time to take the pardon power out of the hands of one person–and especially out of the hands of a lame duck.

2 thoughts on “Oh, pardon me, I didn’t mean to reveal yet again my corrupt use of executive prerogative

  1. Bear in mind that Texas removes the pardon power from their governor and hands it to a board. Most descriptions of the Bush administration in Texas seem to assume that Bush still made the decisions, he just gained political cover to deny making the decisions.

    Bear in mind also that the pardon power should be (but is not) used as a corrective to legislatures that impose ever greater penalties for an ever increasing range of crimes. In Indonesia, President Yudhoyono has made an art form of extending (and threatening) class pardons and commutations as a way of disciplining the legislative taste for being seen to be doing something about crime. In many jurisdictions, Indonesia and Thailand are examples, holiday pardons and commutations are effectively the only form of parole. If you behave well you get a reduction on royal birthdays and national holidays.

    There is an ironclad case, however, for requiring legislative confirmation of a pardon for any offence committed, counselled or procured by the president and subjecting the exercise of the pardon power to a conflict of interest test. There was once an effective conflict of interest test in the form of the impeachment clause but sadly that appears to have been repealed by desuetude.

    The US has an incarceration rate that far exceeds any other democracy. Limiting pardons and commutations to a tiny number of ‘special cases’ just exacerbates that problem.


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