Pardon Power In The United States

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In the United States, the pardon power for federal crimes is granted to the President of the United
States under Article II, Section 2 Clause 1 of the United States Constitution which states that
“The President shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United
States, except in cases of impeachment." It includes the power to grant pardons, conditional pardons, commutations of sentence, conditional commutations of sentence, remissions of fines
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Kritarth Pandey Page 2 and forfeitures, respites and amnesties.1 The pardon power of the President extends only to offences cognizable under federal law. However, the
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Civil liability cannot be excused and harm against another can still be considered harm even if there is no longer any criminal liability. Contempt of court cannot be pardoned, as they are offences against the dignity of the court, and not necessarily offences against the law.
Judicial and legislative restraint on Presidential pardon
In the United States the question has never been asked whether the President in exercising his power of pardon has invaded the powers of the legislature or the powers of the judiciary. The question has always been whether the legislature or judiciary has invaded the power of the
President, and it has been held that neither the legislature nor the judiciary is competent to invade that power. First in U.S. v. Wilson2 and then in Ex p. Wells3 the U.S. Supreme Court held that the word pardon must be given the same meaning as was given to it in England and America when 1 Amnesty is a pardon extended by the government to a group or class of persons, usually for a political offense; the act of a sovereign power officially forgiving certain classes of persons who are subject to trial but have not yet been convicted. 2 32 U.S. 150 (1833).
3 59 U.S. 307
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Grossman4. As
English decisions on the power of pardon have been cited and followed by the U.S. Supreme
Court it would save repetition to state the law as it prevails in England.
In England, having regard to the supremacy of Parliament, the question whether Parliament can invade the prerogative of pardon cannot arise. In the United States, however, questions have arisen whether the legislature can invade or control the power of the President to grant pardon and reprieves, and whether courts likewise can exercise the power of pardon or invade the
President’s power of pardon. In Ex p. Garland 5 it was held that the power conferred on the
President of United States by Article 2 Section 2, is unlimited and, with the exception of impeachment, extends to every offence known to the law, and may be exercised at any time after its commission. That power is not subject to legislative control, and congress can neither limit the effect of the president’s pardon nor exclude from its exercise any class of
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