Beg Your Pardon?

Friday, December 19, 2008


It’s that time of year again, the season of the presidential pardon. Much used and little understood it’s the one truly discretionary power of the president. Pardon historian P.S. Ruckman explains why the get-out-of-jail-free card is a constant subject of fascination and frustration for the public and the press.
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Comments [7]

P.S. Ruckman, Jr. from Illinois


Consider it a vital part of our system of checks and balances. Can it be abused? Certainly. So can judicial review and the congressional power to "investigate." Also, try to keep in mind that - despite the emphasis of the media on unusual cases - the vast majority of pardons (as in 99 plus percent) are granted in a completely non-controversial manner, to average persons who have paid their debt to society and are law-abiding. That is to say, their pardons are well-deserved. Best,

Dec. 26 2008 01:50 PM
steve valliere from exeter, nh

The concept of the presidential pardon is medieval at best. Here is a piece of fish that’s going to stink more and more as the years go by.

Dec. 25 2008 02:21 PM
Matt W. from Arlington, Virginia

P.S. Ruckman Jr. Has found a unique window into understanding presidential power and constitutional governance. I have followed his publications since he commented on a paper of mine at a conference in 2002. If more political scientists delved into the details of government the way Professor Ruckman has studied presidential pardons, there would be much less government and political science "muddling through" and a much more effective, efficient, and vibrant representative democracy in the United States. Congrats on the book.

Dec. 23 2008 09:53 PM
P.S. Ruckman, Jr. from Illinois


Now that the manuscript is complete, it is in the hands of a literary agent in NYC. Of course, the timing is great, so we very have high hopes that we will land a publisher soon.

I can also assure you that I can only scratch the surface of this material in a breif radio interview. The history of pardons is full of amazing twists, unbelievable stunts and, of course, high politics - not to mention a good deal of blood and gore. So, we expect this manusrcipt to cause quite a stir. Best,

Dec. 23 2008 11:50 AM
Priscilla Thornton from Pensacola, FL

I enjoyed your interview, and I recall in the conversation that you have a book to be published soon containing some of the pardon stories that you related as well as many others. When may I expect to purchase your book? It sounds like great reading!

Dec. 23 2008 09:48 AM
P.S. Ruckman, Jr. from Illinois


Mr. Pollard has been on my "Pardon Watch List" for some time now ( My blog has also carefully followed news items related to the effort to secure clemency on his behalf. Best,

Dec. 22 2008 02:49 PM
Helen W. Wilson from Philadelphia, PA

Your piece on Presidential pardons was interesting and timely, but I was disappointed that your list of possible candidates for pardon omitted Jonathan Pollard, the only person in the history of the U.S. to receive a life prison sentence for spying for an ally. The average sentence for his offense is 2 to 4 years. He has served over 23 years for providing Israel with information to which Israel was legally entitled under an agreement with the U.S. Full background on the case is available at and

Dec. 22 2008 01:19 PM

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