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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Can the President Pardon Himself?

In the wake of Bush letting his old mate, “Scooter” Libby, out of prison Yahoo hosted a discussion on whether the president could pardon himself:

Let’s say it was a Capital crime. And let’s say the whole cabinet was in on it. Could the president pardon his whole cabinet, resign, and then the Vice-President (now president) pardon him?

No one really knows the answer because it has never happened and been litigated. However, the majority view is that a president can pardon himself (assuming he does so prior to impeachment). Art. II Sec. 2 of the Constitution states, in part, that the president “shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” The purpose of this clause was to insure the separation of powers by preventing the courts from using the law as a legal blackmail against the president. . . There is a minority view that the president cannot pardon himself.

10 Responses to “Can the President Pardon Himself?”

  1. Paul says:

    Can America pardon itself for electing him (twice)?

    The most powerful nation in the world led by the home-spun, fundamentalist, rhetoric of a fool.

    He has belittled his nation in the eyes of the world, and sadly, brought us down with them.

    jb says: Hi Paul. Thanks for the comment. But I thought they only elected him the second time; didn’t he steal it first time round? Also, my American friends keep reminding me that ‘they’ didn’t elect him the second time round either. It was the other half of America, the ones who say things like: I voted for Bush because he is the only viable choice. Kerry stands for everything that’s against human dignity: abortion, homosexual “marriage”, fetal stem cell research, the lot.

    Oh, yes, and he also attracted something like 90% of the insane vote, like this guy from one of the red-states: I trust my family and friends to be safe under the leadership of this man of character and trustworthiness, who values life, and is not willing to justify allowing the killing of helpless unborn babies in the womb. This certainly is more important than saving a type of bullfrog or fruit fly, in my opinion.
    God Bless America and use us in His purposes!

  2. Gnorb says:

    Also, my American friends keep reminding me that ‘they’ didn’t elect him the second time round either. It was the other half of America, the ones who say things like: I voted for Bush because he is the only viable choice. Kerry stands for everything that’s against human dignity: abortion, homosexual “marriage”, fetal stem cell research, the lot.

    Yes, that pretty much captures it. Also you forgot: Kerry aparently didn’t have enough military experience and was a coward in battle, having only been on Vietnam swiftboats, while GW was heroically saving the fatherland by pretending to fly then going out to booze and snort some coke.

    Regarding the first statement, I don’t know HOW many church sermons I attended which had me convinced that if I voted for anyone who was not vehemently against abortion then I would be going to Hell for putting them in power. That’s when I pretty much stopped being a Christian.

    jb says: Hi Gnorb. It was mainly christians who put me off it, too.

  3. anne says:

    I hope I don’t lose whatever good grace I may have had so far with you but I have to say that the idea of broad-brushing over 63 million Americans as “insane” and rabidly Christian is itself insane (heh) and also quite offensive. Isn’t it the essence of Democracy that sometimes choices are made that are unpopular to lots and lots of people?? Many non-religious and apparently sane people voted for (and still support) Bush because he is consistent and determined, has strong convictions, does not change his plans every time a “man in the street” speaks up, uses the strength of his position to carry out his convictions, and is a focused and centered person whose self-respect doesn’t depend on opinion polls. No one expects to agree with one’s elected officials all the time but some people prefer officials to act more like leaders than celebrities. Kennedy and Clinton were cool and hip but many people felt they were dangerous for the U.S. in various ways, and many disliked them both; yet no one flung character aspersions at those who supported them. On the other hand, it has become a popular blood sport to attack Bush, his ideas, and his supporters. Which is ridiculous and pointless, and demeans those who participate. Wouldn’t it be more helpful and useful to stir up rational debate so as to work on convincing bunches of the 63 million to change their minds?

    jb says: Hi Anne. Sorry, I can’t take the man seriously. I didn’t mean to imply that 63 million Americans were insane and if it came across like that I apologise for being insensitive and for any offence caused. I don’t believe rational debate would change either my own position or the position of those who went out to vote for him and who still think he’s doing a good job. Clinton and Kennedy may well have been dangerous to (certain vested interests in) the U.S., but I believe Bush is dangerous for the whole world.

  4. anne says:

    <p>Thanks for your note, John. I think the bubbles emanating from the mouths of rabid extremists is equally foamy and disgusting no matter whether they’re hate-filled religious fanatics or people who hate religious fanatics. I’m rather surprised you don’t think so, too. The vitriol has got to stop if people are to think and act rationally.</p>
    <p>My reference to Clinton and Kennedy was not because of vested interests but because of their lack of character. The heroes of both books of yours that I read could have been thought, on the surface, bad guys, but their characters were powerful and good. Kinda the opposite. No?</p>
    <p>Incidentally, in 25 words or less, why do you think Bush is dangerous for the whole world? And why more so than Clinton or Jimmy Carter? (Okay, you can have 50 words.)</p>

    <strong>jb says</strong>: Hi Anne. We seem to be a little at cross-purposes here. I don’t hate religious fanatics.
    I can’t deal with why I think Bush is dangerous just now, 25 words, even with 50, because I’m trying to replace a car so we can travel to Norway in a few days time, and there are a dozen or more other things which are more pressing. I don’t, however, think he is a democrat, or interested in democracy. He is certainly a bully and was determined to go to war against Iraq under any circumstances. If I get time before we go I’ll have a go at the 25 words, but I’m not a politician, I’m a writer. Like Dickens said, I couldn’t be a politician, I can’t tell that many lies.

  5. Andrew says:

    One Skull & Bonesman Bush or another Skull & Bonesman Kerry. Democracy? You’re having a laugh.

  6. Tyler says:

    Is Bush more dangerous to the world than Clinton? Look at the state of the world during Bush’s 8 years v Clinton’s. That’s really the only evidence necessary.

    We never elected Bush. Round 1 decided by hundreds of uncounted votes in Florida and a Republican sponsored Supreme Court intervention. Round 2 decided by DieBold voting machines programmed to flip the count in Bush’s favor in certain counties in Ohio.

    And by the way, of course a President can pardon himself. Nixon certainly pardoned himself, even if Ford signed the papers. And at this stage in the game, when we’re claiming Executive Privilege on everything but the grocery list and getting away with it…what President would need to pardon himself?

  7. pia says:

    I was embarrassed to be an American. I had the I’m a third generation New Yorker excuse, but in the year after 9/11 expats would come home for visits and yell at us.

    They didn’t understand the shock we were in. Both from 9/11 itself and realizing that our country was probably not a true democracy anymore. We will never know exactly what happened in Florida or Ohio, and the country is less rich for that.

    I was a political blogger but came to realize that I could do more good by telling stories

    I so love my country but many people who read blogs are sick moralists who try to impose their will on the majority–and the majority of Americans don’t support censorship and much more when they actually think about it.

    The blogosphere has changed much. Many people think like I do. If they don’t, they stay quiet.

    I can come off like the biggest ditz, but I know con law, and what true morals are.

    It’s more than a bit exciting to get emails from people telling me that I woke them up to what a threat Karl Rove is.

    Or a comment like this: your words were so accurate and from now on this is precisely how I will advise young girls I encounter on the subject of birth control: “It can save you from the most difficult decision you will ever have to make whether you decide to keep the pregnancy or terminate it.”

    I don’t moralize though I will do almost anything to keep the Constitution whole.

    The American government might not be a democratic one anymore, but every American who can speak out, has an ethical duty to do so.

  8. David says:

    There is nothing in that clause that states he can pardon himself. The Constitution is vague in that way. It is really up to Congress to decide. Granted, Pelosi refuses to budge on the matter and I hope she gets booted out this November. But to be honest, I am not certain that the country can handle it.

    There are a lot of people in Washington, in Congress, in Bush’s administration, guys like Ashcroft, Rice, Rove, Rumsfeld and so on who are compliant in these crimes. Think of all the senators and representatives that had knowledge of the White House’s lack of proof of Iraq’s nuclear capabilities. I do not think everyday people like myself will ever know all the details.

    It is sad too. Because we now have an opportunity to start over, pull out of Iraq, and make amends to Iraq and its people and I doubt we will ever be completely removed from it. Even if the troops are all brought home, there are hundreds of contractors hired by the State Department, which operate outside of regular military direction. These contractors, like Blackwater are known for shooting first and for no reason at all. Many are responsible for the deaths of peaceful citizens of Iraq. So it does not seem we shall be free of the war or questions about it for a long time.

    The best thing we can do is get out there and vote in November. America is a great country. We just have to keep trying to make it so. The best way is to start in your communities. Volunteer, serve on school boards, and get involved with local politics. Make your corner of the world the best you can. Or, that is how I see it.

  9. Interesting , well in my opinion if a scenario like this happens ( the President is guilty of something ) there should be a countermeasure that will determine if what he or she had done is pardonable.

    A president should not have absolute power , because that is very very dangerous and they should always be held accountable to their actions.

    jb says: Can’t disagree with you, there, dino.