Article 2, Section 2, Clause 1

[Volume 4, Page 21]

Document 25

St. George Tucker, Blackstone's Commentaries 1:App. 331--32


The power of granting pardons, says judge Blackstone, is the most amiable prerogative of a king of England; and is one of the great advantages of monarchy, above any other form of government: in democracies, he adds, this power of pardon can never subsist. It is happy for the people of America that many speculative notions concerning the disadvantages and imperfections of democratic forms of government, have been found to be practically false. In all the democratic states of North America, the power of pardoning is regularly vested (as in the federal government of the United States) in the supreme executive magistrate; and this flower of monarchical prerogative has been found to flourish in a perfect republican soil, not less than in it's native climate. The president of the United States is not, like a governor of Virginia, constrained to act by advice of a council, but the power of pardoning is left entirely to the dictates of his own bosom. The cases in which it has been exercised, manifest the propriety of the existence of such a power in every state, whatever be the form of it's government. In cases of impeachment, as the prosecution is carried on by the representatives of the people, and the judgment can only extend to removal from, and disqualification to hold or enjoy any office under the United States, in future, the constitution has wisely provided, that the same person in whom the right of nomination to office is vested, shall not have the power to remove that disqualification, which the guilt of the offender has brought upon himself. In England, no pardon can be pleaded in bar of an impeachment; but the king may pardon after conviction upon an impeachment. He can not by an exercise of his prerogative avert the disgrace of a conviction; but he can avert it's effects, and restore the offender to his credit.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 4, Article 2, Section 2, Clause 1, Document 25
The University of Chicago Press

Tucker, St. George. Blackstone's Commentaries: With Notes of Reference to the Constitution and Laws of the Federal Government of the United States and of the Commonwealth of Virginia. 5 vols. Philadelphia, 1803. Reprint. South Hackensack, N.J.: Rothman Reprints, 1969.