Post # 251          EXECUTIVE PARDONS, A VESTIGIAL ANOMALY (An Editorial)

The extent of homage universally bestowed on our Founding Fathers is deservedly limitless. Their radical (for the 18th Century) motivation and idealistic goal, was to create an entirely new type of nation, one, where the prevailing principle was the equality of all men. Their declaration that all men are created equal, was the revolutionary death knell tolling the demise of the unjust practice of societal privilege, based upon birth, existing historically in Mother England and Continental Europe. The First Ten Amendments were drafted and permanently incorporated into the United States Constitution (“The Bill of Rights”). It assured the franchise to every American to freely act, provided no injury was caused to another.

The Legislative branch of government issued laws to preserve such declared equality, and to do away with previously unjust legal practices, which had prevailed in European jurisprudence; thus, it abolished. ex post facto laws and prosecutions, bills of attainder, double jeopardy and the like, in keeping with the desire to create a just and equitable system of jurisprudence for all. In time, Civil Rights legislation was enacted, to ensure equal rights between Americans of every color and ethnos, legislation recognizing the equal rights of women was enacted, and equal rights for all became the official watchword of the American way and the American jurisprudence.

In criminal cases, juries were mandated, and the decision of guilt required the unanimous assent of all jurors. The legal standard for the determination of guilt was “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Our  system of laws resolved to risk the possibility of the acquittal of a guilty party, to prevent the possible conviction of an innocent person. Judicial sentencing guidelines were legislated to assure equality of treatment and avoid arbitrary sentencing.

Respectful attention to case precedent, and an established procedure of judicial review, clearly  demonstrated the dedication to treat all citizens, defendants, property holders, taxpayers, contracting parties, petitioners, as well as the criminally accused, in an equal and consistent manner, in keeping with our national resolve.

American Presidents, elected by the people, are assigned by them, virtually unlimited powers to be properly used, as necessary, in the stewardship of the nation. This is in stark contrast to the age-old theory of the divine right of kings as the foundation for a monarch’s powers and authority. Under the system of government, wisely established by our farsighted founders, the authority and powers of the American President are ultimately held in check by the two branches of government, serving simultaneously with him; a Legislative branch, also elected by the people, and a Judicial branch appointed with the consent of Congress. (The Supreme Court). Any act of the President, deemed excessive or arbitrary, can be held in check by any of the two other branches of government [ “Checks and Balances.”]

Incredibly, there has existed, since its inception, a provision of the U.S. Constitution, shamefully inconsistent with the established national resolve, that all men are created equal; and, as a consequence, rights were not to be granted or denied arbitrarily at the whim and caprice of a Monarch. The carryover of to our Constitution, of the unfettered, undeniably, arbitrary power of the Chief Executive to pardon individuals, guilty of criminal conduct, for his own reasons or no reason, is an atavistic relic, a shameful vestige of the Middle Ages, historically applicable to the reign of European autocratic tyrants.

This power of  Presidential pardon is blatantly inconsistent with the established American system of laws, and our signature moral philosophy of government.  Inscribed in our law, in every facet of the relationship of government to citizen, there are mandatory and unassailable assurances to the effect that all men are equal, and therefore, to be treated equally. The age of unlimited privilege and arbitrary decrees by tyrants, prevalent during the dark ages, has absolutely, and logically, no proper place in our democratic republic. It is, in reality, an infected vestigial organ and should be excised from the body politic, by amending the Constitution, before it degrades to the stage of national peritonitis.


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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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