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Civil Disagreements: Can Presidents Pardon Themselves?

May 22 @ 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm

PresPardons May22

The U.S. Constitution says that presidents may “grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” Nearly every president has exercised this power for offenses ranging from treason to simple drug possession. But to date, the only president to receive a pardon was former President Richard M. Nixon.

Today’s political circumstances raise the possibility of a second pardon of a former (and perhaps future) president, Donald Trump. Currently on trial on state criminal charges in New York, the former president faces three more potential criminal trials before or after the upcoming presidential election. A second state court trial remains pending in Georgia, and two criminal cases remain pending on federal charges. The prospect of convictions in any of these cases raises an intriguing question: If Trump is re-elected in November, will he have the power to pardon himself? And even if he does, should he?

Panelists will explore arguments in a moderated debate, followed by a discussion. This program is part of an ongoing series, Civil Disagreements, a collection of moderated debates and discussions on current, critical, and often contentious civic questions. Register for the debate here.

Sponsored by Reform for Illinois, the American Bar Association’s Division for Public Education, the American Constitution Society (Chicago and Austin TX chapters), and the Federalist Society (Chicago chapter). 

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