Burdick v. United States,
236 U.S. 79 (1915)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Burdick v. United States, 236 U.S. 79 (1915)

Burdick v. United States

No. 471

Argued December 16, 1914

Decided January 25, 1915

236 U.S. 79


Acceptance, as well as delivery, of a pardon is essential to its validity; if rejected by the person to whom it is tendered, the court has no power to force it on him. United States v. Wilson, 7 Pet. 150.

Quaere whether the President of the United States may exercise the pardoning power before conviction.

A witness may refuse to testify on the ground that his testimony may have an incriminating effect, notwithstanding the President offers, and he refuses, a pardon for any offense connected with the matters in regard to which he is asked to testify.

There are substantial differences between legislative immunity and a pardon; the latter carries an imputation of guilt and acceptance of a confession of it, while the former is noncommittal, and tantamount to silence of the witness.

There is a distinction between amnesty and pardon; the former overlooks the offense, and is usually addressed to crimes against the sovereignty of the state and political offenses, the latter remits punishment and condones infractions of the peace of the state.

211 F. 492 reversed.

The facts, which involve the effect of a pardon of the President of the United States tendered to one who has not been convicted of a crime nor admitted the commission thereof, and also the necessity of acceptance of a pardon in order to make it effective, are stated in the opinion.

Page 236 U. S. 84

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