Thursday, August 7, 2008

Quote of the Day

It is argued by the attorney general that the word "pardon" was used in the Constitution in reference to the construction given to it in England, from whence was derived our system of laws and practice, and that the powers exercised by the British sovereign under the term "pardon" is a construction necessarily adopted with the term. If this view be a sound one, it has the merit of novelty. The executive office in England and that of this country is so widely different that doubts may be entertained whether it would be safe for a republican chief magistrate, who is the creature of the laws, to be influenced by the exercise of any leading power of the British sovereign. Their respective powers are as different in their origin as in their exercise. A safer rule of construction will be found in the nature and principles of our own government. Whilst the prerogatives of the Crown are great, and occasionally, in English history, have been more than a match for the parliament, the President has no powers which are not given him by the Constitution and laws of the country, and all his acts beyond these limits are null and void. - Justice John McLean, Dissent in Ex Parte Wells, 59 U.S. 18 How. 307 307 (1855)

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