Burdick v. United States
|Burdick v. United States|
|Argued December 16, 1914
Decided January 25, 1915
|Full case name||George Burdick v. United States|
|Citations||236 U.S. 79 (more)
35 S. Ct. 267; 59 L. Ed. 476; 1915 U.S. LEXIS 1799
|Majority||McKenna, joined by White, Holmes, Day, Hughes, Van Devanter, Lamar, Pitney|
|McReynolds took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.|
- A pardoned man must introduce the pardon into court proceedings, otherwise the pardon must be disregarded by the court.
- To do this, the pardoned man must accept the pardon. If a pardon is rejected, it cannot be forced upon its subject.
- A pardon carries an 'imputation of guilt', and accepting a pardon is 'an admission of guilt'.
- A pardon is an act of grace, proceeding from the power intrusted with the execution of the laws, which exempts the individual on whom it is bestowed from the punishment the law inflicts for a crime he has committed. It is the private though official act of the executive magistrate, delivered to the individual for whose benefit it is intended. A private deed, not communicated to him, whatever may be its character, whether a pardon or release, is totally unknown and cannot be acted on.
United States v. Wilson established that it is possible to reject a (conditional) pardon, even for a capital sentence. Burdick affirmed that the same principle extends to unconditional pardons.
A grand jury was investigating whether any Treasury Department employee was leaking information to the press. George Burdick, city editor of the New York Tribune, took the fifth and refused to reveal the source of his information. He was handed a pardon by President Woodrow Wilson but he refused to accept it or testify. He was fined $500 and jailed until he complied.
After Gerald Ford left the White House in 1977, intimates said that the former President privately justified his pardon of Richard Nixon by carrying in his wallet a portion of the text of the Burdick decision that stated a pardon indicated a presumption of guilt, and that acceptance of a pardon was tantamount to a confession of that guilt.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- 236 U.S. 79 Full text of the opinion courtesy of Findlaw.com.
- Flanary, Patrick. "How the Nixon Pardon Strained a Presidential Friendship". ProPublica. Retrieved 16 November 2013.