Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Pardon Me, Mr. President: The Presidential Pardon Power

Presidential Pardons Wipe The Slate Clean

President Ford Announcing Nixon Pardon
Questions have been swirling around the potential for Hillary Clinton and others to be pardoned in light of Emailgate and the revelation of an FBI investigation into the Clinton Foundation. If Hillary had been elected, could she have pardoned herself? Can the President pardon someone only after a conviction, or can he do so even prior to the person being charged? 

The power of the President to grant pardons is extremely broad. Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution provides as follows: "The President shall . . . have Power to grant . . . Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment." The key elements are that (i) the offense must be against the United States (no pardons for state or local law offenses) and (ii) an actual offense must have occurred, as opposed to an advance pardon for future potential offenses. Neither the courts nor Congress may review pardons, and the President need not even provide a reason when he grants one.