Pardon the Interruption.

A couple of weeks ago David Weisberg posed an interesting question: Will Obama Pardon Clinton? And if he does, will she accept? Weisberg’s analysis is an interesting over-view of the power of the Presidential pardon but boils down to a simple fantasy scenario summarized best in his own words: “Because acceptance of a pardon amounts to a confession of guilt, the acceptance [of a pardon] by Clinton would, to a degree, besmirch both Clinton and also Obama. After all, Clinton was Obama’s secretary of State. If she was committing illegal acts as a secretary, it happened literally on his watch…On the other hand, if the [Trump] administration were to prosecute and convict Clinton of crimes committed while she was secretary, that might be an even greater embarrassment for Obama post-presidency.”

As the Obama presidency ends, and as many presidents like to use the pardon on their way out the door[1], it might be a good time to discuss a pardon, and its effects.

The enumerated powers of the office of the President are contained within Article II of the United States Constitution.  Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 reads in part “The President…shall have the power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment[2].”  To put flesh on those bones, the President cannot pardon for state offenses, or for federal impeachment.  Simple.

What happens when someone receives a Presidential pardon?  The Justice Department states that “While a presidential pardon will restore various rights lost as a result of the pardoned offense…it will not erase or expunge the record for your conviction…In addition, most civil disabilities attendant upon a federal felony conviction, such as a loss of the right to vote and hold state public office, are imposed by state rather than federal law.”[3]

In other words, the Presidential pardon is far more important a power than it is a difficult concept. With the swipe of his pen, the President can hand out a “get out of jail free” card with the instructions to “not pass go” until you’ve revealed your felony conviction on every job application, while also likely giving up a right to vote and own firearms.

—  Derek A. Jordan, Esq., Barnes Law

Derek A. Jordan is an associate attorney with Barnes Law, licensed to practice law and land surveying in Tennessee.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.

[1] See:

[2] See:

[3] See: