May 22, 2024

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm, Eastern Time

ACS Chicago: Civil Disagreements: Presidential Self Pardons


The power of the U.S. President to pardon is stated in the U.S. Constitution in one sentence, to "grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment." Nearly every U. S. President in history has exercised the power of the pardon, for offenses ranging from treason to simple drug possession, but to date the only U. S. president to receive a pardon was former President Richard M. Nixon.  

Today’s political circumstances raise the potential 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 either before or after the upcoming November 5, 2024, Presidential election. A second potential state court trial remains pending in Georgia, and two criminal cases remain pending on federal charges. Potential convictions in one or more of those cases raise numerous questions, including an intriguing one: should Trump be re-elected in November, does the Constitution give the President the power to pardon himself? And even if he has the power to pardon himself, if the circumstances should arise, should he do so?

Panelists will explore arguments in a moderated debate, followed by discussion on the topic. 

This program is part of an ongoing series, Civil Disagreements Debate Series, which is a collection of moderated debates and discussions on current, critical, and often, contentious, civic questions sponsored by the American Bar Association's Division for Public Education, the American Constitution Society (Chicago and Austin, TX chapters), the Federalist Society (Chicago chapter), and Reform for Illinois. 


Brian C. Kalt--Arguing AGAINST Presidential Self Pardons, Michigan State University Law School

Jonathan Turley--Arguing IN FAVOR OF Presidential Self Pardons, George Washington University Law School

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