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38 Wake Forest L. Rev. 1225 (2003)
Congressional Power Pardon and Amnesty: Legislative Authority in the Shadow of Presidential Prerogative

handle is hein.journals/wflr38 and id is 1235 raw text is: CONGRESSIONAL POWER OVER PARDON &
Todd David Peterson*
The descendants of Dr. Samuel Mudd, the doctor convicted of
aiding the escape of John Wilkes Booth after his assassination of
President Lincoln, have never ceased their efforts to exonerate their
infamous ancestor. Notwithstanding the fact that Dr. Mudd was
pardoned by President Andrew Johnson as a reward for his work
during a yellow fever epidemic in Florida, Dr. Mudd's descendants
continue to press Congress to pass legislation that would expunge
the doctor's conviction.! Whether Congress has any power to
expunge the conviction is an issue not addressed by the bill's
proponents, but it is far from clear that Congress has any authority
to take the action sought.
In 2001, Congress found itself embroiled in a far more
controversial dispute over the exercise of pardon authority. In the
wake of President Clinton's pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich
during the last day of his presidency, several congressional
committees convened hearings to explore the circumstances under
which the pardon was issued.! Although the hearings were initially
resisted by the former President and his advisors, ultimately, the
political pressure to reveal the details of the pardon was so great
that a number of high-level Clinton officials, including the former
Chief of Staff and the former Counsel to the President, testified
under oath about the decision to pardon Rich.'
* Professor of Law, The George Washington University Law School; A.B.,
1973, Brown University; J.D., 1976, University of Michigan.
1. See H.R. 1885, 105th Cong. (1997); 143 CONG. REC. E1208-09 (1997)
(remarks of Rep. Hoyer). The efforts of Mudd's descendants were not limited to
Congress and included litigation attempting to force the Department of the
Army to reconsider Dr. Mudd's conviction. See Mudd v. Caldera, 26 F. Supp. 2d
113 (D.D.C. 1998). The Army ultimately rejected the Mudd family's request.
See Allan Lengel, Long Fight Drags On for Md. Doctor's Good Name, WASH.
POST, July 5, 2000, at B04.
2. See Dan Eggen & Peter Slevin, Ashcroft May Back Rich Probe;
Immunity Grant for Ex-Wife Considered, WASH. POST, Feb. 13, 2001, at AOl.
3. See John Mintz & Peter Slevin, Clinton Allows Former Aides to Testify;


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