ArtII.S2.C1.3.3 Pardon Power and Forms of Clemency Generally

Article II, Section 2, Clause 1:

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution gives the President power to “grant Reprieves and Pardons.” 1 Encompassed in this provision is the authority to provide relief from the punishment that would otherwise follow from commission of an “Offence[ ] against the United States,” i.e., a federal crime.2 The President’s power in this respect encompasses several related forms of relief, including not only a full, individual pardon and time-limited reprieve but also amnesty for groups of offenders, commutation of a criminal sentence, and remission of fines or penalties.3

U.S. Const. art. II, § 2, cl. 1. back
United States v. Klein, 80 U.S. 128, 147 (1871) (stating that a pardon “blots out the offence pardoned and removes all its penal consequences” ). back
See Ex parte Wells, 59 U.S. 307, 309–10, 314 (1856) (indicating that the pardon power extends “to all kinds of pardons known in the law as such, whatever may be their denomination,” including not only “absolute pardon[s]” but also more limited forms of release, remission, and repreive); Klein, 80 U.S. at 147 ( “Pardon includes amnesty.” ). back