You’ve probably heard of pocket vetoes, but even I hadn’t considered the possibility of pocket pardons until recently. Others call them secret pardons but I like alliteration so we’re calling them pocket pardons. It’s also a tribute to one of my favorite Dickens characters, Herbert Pocket. Not really, but I have a lifelong obsession with Great Expectations so why stop now?
There’s nothing in the Constitution’s pardon clause that requires publication. Article II Section 2 keeps it as simple as the President* Pennywise’s brain; all it says is that the president “shall have the power to grant reprieves and pardon offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.”
Vague language such as that is why I am not an Originalist. The Constitution is a structure that needs fleshing out. That’s why I’m an adherent of Justice Brennan’s notion of the Living Constitution.
As far as I can tell, a pocket pardon has never been issued. The Impeached Insult Comedian regards his presidency* as an exercise in disruption so it’s possible that today’s pardon list will be incomplete. He may hold back announcing any preemptive pardons for his kinfolk and/or Rudy so they can use them like an immunity idol on Survivor or a get out of jail free card in Monopoly. Trump has treated the presidency as a game so it would be perversely appropriate.
The pardon watch continues as does the countdown until we have a asterisk-free president: