A Question About the Presidential Power to Pardon

“A federal pardon in the United States is the action of the President of the United States that completely sets aside the punishment for a federal crime. The authority to take such action is granted to the president by Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution.

While a presidential pardon will restore various rights lost as a result of the pardoned offense and should lessen to some extent the stigma arising from a conviction, it will not erase or expunge the record of that conviction. Therefore, a person who is granted a pardon must still disclose their conviction on any form where such information is required, although the person may also disclose the fact that they received a pardon.[26] In addition, most civil disabilities attendant upon a federal felony conviction, such as loss of the right to vote and hold state public office, are imposed by state rather than federal law, and also may be removed only by state action.”


The preponderance of legal argumentation suggests that the President does not have the constitutional right or power to pardon himself.

As an element of the concept of constitutional checks and balances, neither Congress or the Courts have the power or authority to remove or alter the President’s power to pardon which appears to be absolute and plenary in nature and scope.

However, there may be legislative avenues of recourse which can be perused as a possible means of curbing excesses and abuses of the Presidential power to pardon.

Short of an amendment to the Constitution, there seems to be no way to limit or eliminate this potentially deleterious aspect of presidential power and authority.

What I put forward here is suggested legislative language that may be adopted by Congress in an effort to introduce a modicum of circumspection on what is now the unfettered power to grant and issue pardons for offenses against the United States and the Constitution:

1. A President may not issue or grant a pardon to any individual that he or she has appointed to any office in the Federal Government.

2. A pardon may not be issued or granted to any individual who has been adjudicated guilty and sentenced to a term of imprisonment pursuant to a plea bargain or formal petition for prosecutorial or judicial clemency.

3. No person shall be issued or granted a pardon who is, or was, a member of the President’s family or household at the time of conviction for the offense pardoned or at the time the pardon is issued or granted.

4. No person may be issued or granted a ‘preemptive pardon’ for crimes for which he or she has not been tried and convicted.

In light of the recent spate of presidential pardons, it should  be apparent to most conscientious Americans that something must be done about excessive and/or abusive use of the Presidential power to pardon.

This post is a product of some of my thinking on the matter….

So here’s the question:

What are your thoughts on the question of excess or abuse of the Presidential power to issue and grant pardons?

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