Executive Judgments: The Insidious Implications of the Presidential Pardon and Commutation Authority
Volume 93, Online
By Colton Brown [PDF]

This Comment analyzes this question, using the divergent decisions from the Fourth and Sixth Circuits to illustrate that an executive judgment ought not to override a judicial judgment. Concluding otherwise presents an insidious implication of the president’s pardon and commutation authority in that it may become an aggravation of punishment, even under circumstances where the authority is used with benevolent motivations. Section II provides a background on the pardon and commutation authority and its origins in the U.S. Constitution. It then describes historical and modern uses of the authority before finally examining the decisions reached by the Fourth Circuit in United States v. Surratt and the Sixth Circuit in Dennis v. Terris. Section III discusses the dangers inherent in the unchecked use of the pardon and commutation authority and the insidious implication of the pardon and commutation authority that the Fourth and Sixth Circuit’s decisions raised.