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    III. PARDON SUPPOSES OR RECOGNIZES,

    1. The guilt of the condemned. This is evident. To pardon an innocent man would be preposterous. Human Governments sometimes professedly do this, as when it is ascertained that a man, who is in prison for a term of years, is innocent of the crime of which he was convicted, the Governor issues a pardon as a means of his release. But it is a misnomer, and really an insult to the innocent man. The law should make provision for release from unjust confinement without subjecting a man to the disgrace of receiving a pardon when he had committed no crime.AERS 37.3

    2. The power of government. This is equally evident. To pardon is to remit a penalty which might be inflicted. It would be a mere farce to offer a pardon to those whom the Government had no power to punish.AERS 38.1

    3. The justice of the law transgressed. This is nearly parallel with the first proposition, and like it, evident; for to pronounce a man guilty is to say that he has done wrong. And if a violation of law be wrong, the law violated must be right. An unjust law is, in a moral view, a nullity. When a law is found to be unconstitutional, or a nullity, the prisoner under it is not really pardoned; he should be released from false imprisonment; and such release is of justice, not of mercy. But pardon is of favor. Thus it is clear that the justice of the law is acknowledged in the article of pardon. Now as pardon supposes the guilt of the prisoner, the power of the Government, and the justice of the law, in all these it may be made to honor the Government and vindicate its integrity.AERS 38.2

    But there are other principles involved. The act of pardon recognizes the claims of law, by recognizing its justice. Thus far it honors the Government. But the question still remains, Are those claims satisfied as well as acknowledged? According to a plain truth before noticed, the sinner ought to be punished; justice imperatively demands it. How then can pardon be granted, and strict justice be administered? In this case there will arise two conflicting interests; one of sympathy for the accused, leaning toward mercy; the other; strenuous for the integrity of the Government, leaning toward justice. How can these principles be reconciled? Can both parties be satisfied? Here is a difficulty; and this will lead us to notice the conditions or restrictions under which pardon may be granted with safety. For an indiscriminate, unconditional pardon is dangerous to the Government. Closely examining this subject we findAERS 38.3

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