Written by DML
Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School. He is also a Democrat. Today, he penned an op-ed on whether President Trump can or cannot pardon himself.
Although Trump’s steady flow of public criticisms of Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken center stage this week, not far behind is the media’s obsession to find someone in the legal community who can address one of the president’s recent tweets about the Russia investigation.
Earlier this week, Trump tweeted about his broad power to pardon. It has fueled a media firestorm based on a single question: Can the president pardon himself?
Alan M. Dershowitz is highly respected by people on both sides of the aisle. He has said numerous times that he does not see any crimes committed by the president and does not agree with the need for a special counsel.
I have interviewed Alan, and although he is a staunch Democrat, he is a very honest man who takes his personal politics out of his legal opinions. I like him, and he’s someone to whom you should listen. Here is some of what he wrote in his op-ed for The Hill
Can the president pardon himself?
by Alan M. Dershowitz
The answer is crystal clear! And anyone who gives you a different answer is misleading you, because there is only one correct answer.
Here it is: Nobody knows!
No president has ever tried it. No court has ever ruled on it. The framers of our Constitution never opined on it. History provides no guidance. There is a clean slate.
Yet pundits and academic know-it-alls will express certainty on both sides of this issue. That’s what pundits and academics do. Rarely do they acknowledge they don’t know, because as experts they are supposed to know. But this is one question whose answer they cannot know.
Too many academics have said that noncriminal conduct by Trump and his administration is a crime, when they wish it were a crime, so that Trump can be removed from office. But wishful thinking is not a substitute for rigorous analysis, which has been sorely lacking among some of my fellow liberal academics.
Finally, the courts would have to decide whether, under our system of separation of powers, the courts have jurisdiction to review a presidential self-pardon. This last contingency is interesting, because as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes reminded us, the power to pardon is not a mere “private act of grace,” but rather an important part of our “constitutional scheme,” of checks and balances and separation of powers.
About Alan M. Dershowitz
Alan Morton Dershowitz (born September 1, 1938) is an American lawyer, jurist, and author. He is a prominent scholar on United States constitutional law and criminal law, and a leading defender of civil liberties. He spent most of his career at Harvard Law School where in 1967, at the age of 28, he became the youngest full professor of law in its history. He held the Felix Frankfurter professorship there from 1993 until his retirement in December 2013. He is now a regular CNN contributor and political analyst.
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