I've excerpted what I think are the most important parts of authors' the argument below. Read the whole thing, It's short and powerfully reasoned.
Can a president pardon himself? Four days before Richard Nixon resigned, his own Justice Departments Office of Legal Counsel opined no, citing the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case. We agree.
The Justice Department was right that guidance could be found in the enduring principles that no one can be both the judge and the defendant in the same matter, and that no one is above the law.
The Constitution specifically bars the president from using the pardon power to prevent his own impeachment and removal. It adds that any official removed through impeachment remains fully subject to criminal prosecution. That provision would make no sense if the president could pardon himself.
Self-pardon under this rubric is impossible. The foundational case in the Anglo-American legal tradition is Thomas Bonham v. College of Physicians, commonly known as Dr. Bonhams Case. In 1610, the Court of Common Pleas determined that the College of Physicians could not act as a court and a litigant in the same case. The colleges royal charter had given it the authority to punish individuals who practiced without a license. However, the court held that it was impermissible for the college to receive a fine that it had the power to inflict: One cannot be Judge and attorney for any of the parties.
The Constitution embodies this broad precept against self-dealing in its rule that congressional pay increases cannot take effect during the Congress that enacted them, in its prohibition against using official power to gain favors from foreign states and even in its provision that the chief justice, not the vice president, is to preside when the Senate conducts an impeachment trial of the president.
Profile InformationName: Martin Johnson
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