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Is the presidential pardon too powerful?

Article II, section 2 of the United States Constitution grants the president the power to grant pardons “for offences against the United States, except in cases of impeachment” and U.S. presidents since George Washington have exercised this power to varying degrees. Those who have been pardoned and how those decisions are made can be controversial, and some critics are calling for reforms to limit the abuse of this power. Is the presidential pardon an important tool to correct injustices and ease tensions, or is it an unfair opportunity to show favoritism?


A look at the president's pardon power and how it works

Additional resources to think about

In Trump's final hours, a flurry of pardons and commutations
On the twilight of his presidency, Donald Trump issued 144 pardons and commutations. The PBS NewsHour team explores how these compare to past presidents.

Presidential Proclamation 4311 of September 8, 1974 by President Gerald R. Ford granting a pardon to Richard M. Nixon
Read the text of President Ford's pardon of former president Richard Nixon from the National Archives.

Presidential Pardons Heavily Favor Whites
ProPublica examines data from a study from the early 2000s that exposed racial disparities in who receives pardons.

Trump used his clemency power sparingly despite a raft of late pardons and commutations
Pew Research compares President Trump's use of the pardon and compares it to that of previous presidents.

Frequently Asked Questions | Office of the Pardon Attorney
See FAQ's from the U.S. Department of Justice's website about pardons, clemency, and how the Office of the Pardon Attorney plays a role.

#FreeHer Campaign Wants Clemency For 100 Women In Biden's First 100 Days
A group advocating for women and girls who are currently or were formerly incarcerated looks to President Biden for help and reform of the criminal justice system.


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Is the presidential pardon too powerful?

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