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Schick v. Reed


In Schick v. Reed, the Supreme Court ruled that limits to the president's power to pardon can be set only by constitutional amendment.

In 1954, Maurice Schick, a master sergeant in the United States Army stationed in Japan, was tried before a court-martial for the murder of an eight-year-old girl. He admitted to the killing, but contended that he was insane at the time that he committed it. After a board of psychiatrists concluded that Schick was suffering from a nonpsychotic behavioral disorder and was mentally aware of and able to control his actions, the court-martial rejected Schick's defense and he was sentenced to death on 27 March 1954. In 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, acting under authority granted by the Constitution, commuted Schick's sentence from death to life imprisonment, on the condition that he would never be eligible for parole.

Had Schick originally received a sentence of life imprisonment, he would have been eligible for parole consideration in March of 1969. Two years after that date, having served 17 years of his sentence, Schick filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to require the United States Board of Parole to consider him for parole. The chairman of the United States Board of Parole, George J. Reed, asked the U.S. District Court for a summary judgment in the government's favor.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980Schick v. Reed - Significance, The Lower Court Rulings, The President Can Commute With Conditions, Furman V. Georgia Did Not Apply