Please Allow Myself to Pardon . . . Myself: The Constitutionality of a Presidential Self-Pardon

18 Pages Posted: 27 May 2020

Date Written: April 28, 2020

Abstract

Donald Trump sparked a debate after tweeting, “As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself . . . ,” and, “all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon . . . .” Suddenly the constitutional question of a self-pardon — previously relegated to “parlor game” status among constitutional scholars — became real. This essay argues in favor of the president’s power to issue a self-pardon by analyzing both the arguments for and against. As this essay demonstrates, many of the anti-self-pardon arguments are the result of misunderstandings regarding judicial precedent, the Constitutional Convention, or the significance of one person’s ill-informed opinion during the Nixon administration. Other anti-self-pardon arguments are premised on vague themes that could be interpreted to support any desired outcome. The arguments in favor of the self-pardon, however, are well-grounded in American jurisprudence and are consistent with the text of the Constitution.

Keywords: Pardon Power, Presidential Pardon, Self-Pardon, Presidential Self-Pardon, Can a President Pardon Himself, Trump

Suggested Citation

Conklin, Michael, Please Allow Myself to Pardon . . . Myself: The Constitutionality of a Presidential Self-Pardon (April 28, 2020). University of Detroit Mercy Law Review, Vol. 97, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3587921 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3587921

Michael Conklin (Contact Author)

Angelo State University ( email )

2601 W. Avenue N
San Angelo, TX 76909
United States

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