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Website of the Week

Website of the Week Archive

Feb. 20, 2001

JURIST: The Legal Education Network, Presidential Pardons, http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/pardons.htm 

Former President Clinton's many last minute pardons has raised the public's curiosity about this practice. The "Presidential Pardons" page provides an interesting collection of relevant information, including

  • the constitutional and historical basis of the President's pardon powers
  • links to relevant regulations and recent testimony before Congressional committees
  • leading cases
  • notable pardons through history (including Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter's pardon of Vietnam War draft resisters)
  • a bibliography of books and articles.

Additional information on presidential pardons, past and present, is available from the following sources:

  • CNN is one of several news sources to list the names of persons who received presidential pardons or sentence commutations, http://www.cnn.com/2001/ALLPOLITICS/stories/01/20/pardons.list/index.html 
  • Special Presidential Pardons of Confederate Soldiers (Mountain Press, 1999)
  • U.S. Dep't of Justice, Office of the Pardon Attorney, http://www.usdoj.gov/pardon/, "maintains copies of warrants and presidential proclamations granting executive clemency (including pardon, commutation of sentence, and remission of fine), dating from 1793 to the present. The copies of the warrants and presidential proclamations are on microfilm or paper, depending on the date of the warrant, and are generally organized by date of the grant of clemency. The existence of a clemency warrant for a given person is determined by use of alphabetical indices of the names of applicants for clemency, including electronic databases and index card files."

Some pardons are issued as Executive Orders or Proclamations. These documents are found in:

  • the Federal Register
    • in print, KF70.A2 at Reference Stacks and Basement
    • in microfiche, KF70.A2H3 at Reading Room Microfiche
    • on LEXIS-NEXIS: GENFED;FEDREG, from July 1980
    • on Westlaw: FR, from July 1980
    • on the Internet, http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/aces/aces140.html, from 1995
  • Title 3, Code of Federal Regulations

On a humorous note, it is an annual tradition for the President to grant an official pardon, or death sentence commutation, to one turkey on Thanksgiving. President Clinton's pardon statement from November 2000 is found in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, pages 2918-19 (Nov. 2000), available on the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/nara003.html. (Select "2000 Presidential Documents" then type "thanksgiving and turkey" as your keyword search terms.) 

2008, M.G. Gallagher Law Library, University of Washington