The Constitution of the United States of America instills the President with the authority to grant pardons and reprieves for offenses against the United States. Article 2, Section 2, Clause 1 of the Constitution states that, “The President shall...have power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” The President’s authority to grant pardons is essentially unfettered except in cases of impeachment. In this particular case, the defendant was an attorney and a former member of the Confederate government who received a pardon from President Andrew Jackson for this previous loyalty. The defendant, Augustus Hill Garland, used this pardon that he received from the President to base the claim that a law passed by Congress was unconstitutional.
Augustus Hill Garland was an attorney from the state of Arkansas, who had passed all the necessary provisions of Congress to become an attorney of the courts and in December 1860 was officially admitted as an attorney. He had cases he was presenting in the courts when the Civil War broke out and placed all of his business on hold. During the Civil War, Garland served as a Senator from Arkansas in the Confederate government until the Confederate’s surrender in 1865. On January 24, 1865, Congress passed a law that required all former members of the Confederate government to take an oath denouncing their involvement with the Confederate government before being allowed to practice law in the courts again. It read:
“No person, after the date of this act, shall be admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, or at any time after the fourth of March next, shall be admitted to the bar of any Circuit or District Court of the United States, or of the Court of Claims, as an attorney or counsellor of such court, or shall be allowed to appear and be heard in any such court, by virtue of any previous admission,... [continues]
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