OA362: The Pardon Power (Or: Blagojevich, Milken, and Trump, Oh My!)

Today’s episode takes a deep dive into the history and contemporary use of the Presidential pardon power in light of President Trump’s decision to pardon and/or commute the sentences of 11 various and sundry monsters. We figure out exactly what the power was supposed to mean and what it means today.

We start off with some pre-show teasers.

After that, our “A” segment looks at the basics of the Nevada caucus, including the results you can expect the day after this show drops! What weird changes are taking place in Nevada? Listen and find out!

As a teaser, we talk about today’s sentencing by Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Trump loyalist and Nixon afficionado Roger Stone. What does it mean, and does it portend a pardon for Stone? Listen and find out!

Then, it’s time for our deep dive into Presidential pardons and commutations. We begin with the language in the Constitution (Art. 2, Sec. 2, Cl. 1) and Federalist 74.

From there, we move on to the 19th and 20th century uses of pardons, looking at the literature and the relatively recent (and controversial — deservedly so) pardons by Bill Clinton on the very last day of his presidency. We end the segment, of course, by discussing the assorted and sundry monsters pardoned by Trump, including some names you literally won’t believe.


None! If you’d like to have either of us as a guest on your show, drop us an email at openarguments@gmail.com.

Show Notes & Links

  1. Check out Federalist 74 on pardons.
  2. In terms of contemporary pardon literature, we recommend Margaret Colgate Love’s “The Twilight of the Pardon Power” (2010) and Gregory C. Sisk‘s 2002 article “Suspending the Pardon Power During the Twilight of a Presidential Term.

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