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Monday, January 24, 2022

Amnesty and Pardons

One question that could arise under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment is whether someone can refuse congressional amnesty. A person can (and some people do) refuse a presidential pardon. Maybe they don't want the imputation of guilt, or maybe they don't want to accept any conditions attached to the pardon.

Section Three amnesty is analogous to a presidential pardon. Only Congress can relieve someone of a Section Three disability and, in effect, grant them forgiveness for their prior misconduct. Granted, pardons involve criminal cases and Section Three is a civil disability, but for purposes of whether someone can refuse amnesty I don't think that this matters. The same rationale that might lead someone to refuse a pardon--imputation of guilt--might lead someone to refuse an offer of amnesty, especially prior to a determination of ineligibility.

Are there any examples of someone refusing amnesty? Not that I can find. The only item of note is that Jefferson Davis (shortly before he died) indicated in a letter that he would not accept amnesty if offered. In 1979, Congress gave him amnesty and he was unable to refuse.

Posted by Gerard Magliocca on January 24, 2022 at 11:34 AM | Permalink

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