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Congressional Control of Presidential Pardons

6 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2017 Last revised: 8 Sep 2017

Glenn Harlan Reynolds

University of Tennessee College of Law

Date Written: August 25, 2017


Though the president’s pardon power is plenary, many questions remain. To what extent may Congress, via legislation, regulate the president’s pardon power? Though it is well established that the power is plenary, does that insulate the pardon power from any Congressional regulation at all? And if the answer to this is “no” – and it is – then what sort of Congressional regulation is permissible? I address those issues in this short Essay, while offering some suggestions for regulating, or at least regularizing, the pardon power in ways that I believe are within Congress’s power.

Keywords: pardon, plenary, criminal law, executive, commutation, necessary and proper, congress, congressional power

Suggested Citation

Reynolds, Glenn Harlan, Congressional Control of Presidential Pardons (August 25, 2017). University of Tennessee Legal Studies Research Paper No. 332. Available at SSRN: or

Glenn Harlan Reynolds (Contact Author)

University of Tennessee College of Law ( email )

1505 West Cumberland Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37996-1810
United States
865-974-6744 (Phone)

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