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Schick v. Reed

Presidential Pardoning Power

One month after Gerald Ford became president following the resignation of his successor, Richard Nixon in August of 1974, he pardoned Nixon of any wrongdoing associated with the Watergate scandal. Many criticized Ford's actions, and some have blamed his defeat by Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter in the 1976 elections on widespread antipathy regarding his pardon of Nixon.

Should the president even be allowed to make pardons? Viewed from one angle, the idea smacks of autocracy. On the other hand, the presidential pardon makes sense in instances where prejudice or other factors have interfered with the handing down of a just verdict. Many intellectuals in the 1920s believed that Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti had been falsely accused of murder on the basis of their anarchist beliefs rather than the evidence, and called for a presidential pardon. The pardon for Sacco and Vanzetti never came, however. As for Nixon's pardon, the nation had already been through a prolonged series of investigations and hearings related to Watergate, and the American people were ready to move on.

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