Can A President Pardon Someone If Their Conviction Has Already Been Overturned By The Supreme Court? Just Asking…
No doubt the President loves his power to pardon. So we weren’t exactly surprised when we woke up this news-filled morning to this Tweet and clip from NBC News in which Trump muses about future pardons, in particular, Muhammad Ali.
But something didn’t quite sit right with us about that. So we looked it up, and sure enough, Ali’s conviction was unanimously overturned by the Supreme Court 47 years ago. But we’re not legal scholars, so even though it doesn’t make common sense, we thought maybe the President can pardon that person anyway. That was clarified for us almost immediately in a Tweet from University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck who includes a much more comprehensive link to the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Trump’s several pardons and commutations of late have led to the rise of a narrative on the far right that the President can’t possibly be racist if he’s pardoning so many POC.
Ali was originally convicted because he refused to serve in the U.S. Army after being drafted during the Vietnam War. That seems exactly like the type of thing Trump would vehemently denounce. Then again, Trump also wants the death penalty for drug dealers, and yet commuted the sentence of a convicted drug dealer earlier this week after Kim Kardashian asked him to.