Media Mention

Jonathan Adler: Trump’s Use of the Pardon Power

July 11, 2020

Note: this piece was originally published in Reason, and was written by Checks & Balances member Jonathan Adler.

President Trump’s decision to commute the sentence of Roger Stone has brought renewed attention to the pardon power. This pardon is egregious, perhaps even corrupt, but it is perfectly lawful.

The President’s power to issue pardons is fairly absolute. The President has the unilateral authority to issue pardons. and this power cannot be constrained by Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s proposal to limit how the pardon power is used is almost certainly unconstitutional, and the fact that Trump may benefit personally from his uses of the pardon power does not make the pardons or commutations any less valid.

This is not the first time President Trump has used the pardon power to help a friend or ally. In fact, he seems primarily interested in using the pardon power for such purposes. As Jack Goldsmith and Matt Gluck found when they analyzed Trump’s use of the pardon power: “Almost all of the beneficiaries of Trump’s pardons and commutations have had a personal or political connection to the president.” Indeed, they found that ” no president in American history comes close to matching Trump’s systematically self-serving use of the pardon power.”


Continue reading at Reason.