July 22, 2008
May Pardons Be Granted Preemptively?
Slate.com: With six months to go before President Bush leaves office, the White House is receiving a flurry of pardon applications. The New York Times reported that "several members of the conservative legal community" are pushing for the White House to grant pre-emptive pardons for officials involved in counterterrorism programs. Wait—can a president really pardon someone who hasn't even been charged with a crime?
Yep. In 1866, the Supreme Court ruled in Ex parte Garland that the pardon power "extends to every offence known to the law, and may be exercised at any time after its commission, either before legal proceedings are taken, or during their pendency, or after conviction and judgment." (In that case, a former Confederate senator successfully petitioned the court to uphold a pardon that prevented him from being disbarred.) Generally speaking, once an act has been committed, the president can issue a pardon at any time—regardless of whether charges have even been filed.
Read full article here. [Brooks Holland]
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