Monday, July 24, 2017

Governors and Self Pardons

Max Kutner, at Newsweek, has done his homework. He has discovered that the first governor of the Washington territory, pardoned himself, writing, “I, Isaac I. Stevens, governor of the said territory, by virtue of the authority vested in me as governor, do hereby respite the said Isaac I. Stevens, defendant, from execution of said judgment.”

In addition, an "unnamed governor" identified only as a “popular statesman” was arrested for stealing a horse, found guilty and given a 3 year prison sentence. After being elected governor, he issued himself the pardon. Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus "reportedly" pardoned himself after he was briefly jailed, "a newspaper account said, though the details are unclear."

Kutner also notes legal analysts "have previously used state pardons to argue in favor of presidential ones."
Before 1999, no president had ever granted a pardon for someone who was no longer alive. When President Bill Clinton was considering pardoning Henry Flipper, a former slave who was dismissed from the Army because of allegations of impropriety, lawyers with the firm Arnold & Porter submitted a brief to Clinton in favor of the posthumous pardon, explaining that the precedent existed at the state level. They pointed out that since 1977, nine states had granted such pardons on at least 10 occasions. “We argue that the president’s power is similar to that of state governors, who have granted posthumous pardons,” the attorneys wrote. “Although the constitutional language of the pardon clauses from these states varies, the pardon power in these state constitutions is at least as expansive as the broad authority given to the president in [the U.S. Constitution]. Therefore, the experience of these states is compelling.” 
See full story here.

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