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Category Archives: Courts

Presidential Pardons: Overview and Selected Legal Issues

EveryCRSReport: Presidential Pardons: Overview and Selected Legal Issues,, January 14, 2020: “Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution authorizes the President “to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” The power has its roots in the king’s prerogative to grant mercy under early English law, which later traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to the American colonies. The Supreme Court has recognized that the authority vested by the Constitution in the President is quite broad, describing it as “plenary,” discretionary, and largely not subject to legislative modification. Nonetheless, there are two textual limitations on the pardon power’s exercise: first, the President may grant pardons only for federal criminal offenses, and second, impeachment convictions are not pardonable. The Court has also recognized some other narrow restraints, including that a pardon cannot be issued to cover crimes prior to commission. The pardon power authorizes the President to grant several forms of relief from criminal punishment. The most common forms of relief are full pardons (for individuals) and amnesties (for groups of people), which completely obviate the punishment for a committed or charged federal criminal offense, and commutations, which reduce the penalties associated with convictions. An administrative process has been established through the Department of Justice’s Office of the Pardon Attorney for submitting and evaluating requests for these and other forms of clemency, though the process and regulations governing it are merely advisory and do not affect the President’s ultimate authority to grant relief.

As for whether a President may grant a self-pardon, no past President has ever issued such a pardon. As a consequence, no federal court has addressed the matter. That said, several Presidents have considered the proposition of a self-pardon, and scholars have reached differing conclusions on whether such an action would be permissible based on the text, structure, and history of the Constitution. Ultimately, given the limited authority available, the constitutionality of a self-pardon is unclear…”

The United States Supreme Court Nominations Web Archive

In Custodia Legis: “The Law Library of Congress, in collaboration with the Library of Congress Web Archiving Team, is excited to announce the release of a new web archive, The United States Supreme Court Nominations Web Archive. This archive collection consists of blogs, academic articles, congressional press releases, and media articles related to the nominations… Continue Reading

‘OK, Boomer’ makes a Supreme Court appearance in age case

AP: ““OK, Boomer” made its first appearance in the Supreme Court Wednesday, invoked by baby boomer Chief Justice John Roberts 12 days before he turns 65. The meme is a favorite of younger generations and Roberts used it in questions in a case about age discrimination in the workplace. “The hiring person, who’s younger, says,… Continue Reading

Trump impeachment trial: legacy of judicial independence at stake

The Christian Science Monitor – As Roberts enters fray, legacy of judicial independence at stake – Why We Wrote This: “Presiding over an impeachment trial, Chief Justice John Roberts will seek to embody the judicial independence he often promotes. But the remainder of the Supreme Court term may be a tougher test…For an institutionalist like… Continue Reading

EFF Asks Supreme Court To Reverse Dangerous Rulings About API Copyrightability and Fair Use

EFF: “Washington D.C.—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today asked the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that functional aspects of Oracle’s Java programming language are not copyrightable, and even if they were, employing them to create new computer code falls under fair use protections. The court is reviewing a long-running lawsuit Oracle filed against Google, which… Continue Reading

Technology Can’t Fix Algorithmic Injustice

Boston Review:”…Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates have all publicly expressed their concerns about the advent of this kind of “strong” (or “general”) AI—and the associated existential risk that it may pose for humanity. In Hawking’s words, the development of strong AI “could spell the end of the human race.”…These are legitimate long-term worries.… Continue Reading

Dictionaries and the Law

Davis, Laurel, “Dictionaries and the Law” (2019). Rare Book Room Exhibition Programs. 33.   “Exhibition program from a Spring 2019 exhibit presented in the Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room at the Boston College Law Library. The exhibit focused on the history of legal dictionaries published over the last 500 years.” “The law is a profession… Continue Reading

Will Artificial Intelligence Eat the Law? The Rise of Hybrid Social-Ordering Systems

Wu, Tim, Will Artificial Intelligence Eat the Law? The Rise of Hybrid Social-Ordering Systems (August 25, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3492846 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3492846 “Software has partially or fully displaced many former human activities, such as catching speeders or flying airplanes, and proven itself able to surpass humans in certain contests, like Chess and Jeopardy. What… Continue Reading

Judge backs Reveal’s suit to end secrecy around Silicon Valley’s diversity

Reveal: “A federal judge on Tuesday struck down attempts by the U.S. Department of Labor and several major Silicon Valley firms to keep companies’ staff diversity numbers secret, siding with the argument made by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting that the records are not confidential business information.  Magistrate Judge Kandis A. Westmore of… Continue Reading

Robert Mueller’s Secret Memos Part 3

Jason Leopold via BuzzFeedNews – The Documents The Justice Department Didn’t Want Congress To See – “BuzzFeed News sued the US government for the right to see all the work that Robert Mueller’s team kept secret. Today we are publishing the third installment of the FBI’s summaries of interviews with key witnesses…BuzzFeed News has obtained some… Continue Reading

Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, December 29, 2019

Via LLRX – Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, December 29, 2019 – Four highlights from this week: What You’re Unwrapping When You Get a DNA Test for Christmas; Ring and Amazon sued in federal court over security concerns; Smart Home Tech, Police, and Your Privacy: Year in Review 2019; and Fake… Continue Reading

Protecting the Legal Foundation of the Internet: 2019 in Review

EFF: “When someone says something unlawful online, they should be the one held responsible for it, not the website or platform where they said it. Section 230—the most important law protecting free speech online—reflects that common-sense principle. This year, EFF defended Section 230 in Congress, the courts, and on the Internet…” Continue Reading