THE ADVOCATE 785
VOL. 78 PART 5 SEPTEMBER 2020
The objection was indeed so weighty that Mason was one of three delegates
who refused to sign the Constitution. Mason’s fear, similar to the fear of the
House of Commons back in the day of the Earl of Danby, was that the president
might not only pardon a friend or an ally, but excuse someone who has
committed a crime at the president’s own instruction.
We are told that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to
repeat it. The world has seen all of this before. It is not a perfect analogy,
but in the story above concerning the questionable pardon granted by
Charles II to the Earl of Danby, for the House of Commons substitute the
U.S. Congress, for the House of Lords substitute the U.S. Senate, for Danby
substitute Roger Stone (or Lewis “Scooter” Libby or Joe Arpaio?) and for
Charles II substitute Donald Trump. For France substitute Russia and for
the Popish Plot take your pick of any number of conspiracy theories currently
plaguing humanity. Plus ça change! I beg your pardon?
1. PC Yorke, “Leeds, Thomas Osborne, 1st Duke of” in
Hugh Chisholm, ed, Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th
ed (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1911)
2. In Canada, the Royal Perogative of Mercy is exercised
by the Governor General or the Governor-in-
3. 32 US (7 Pet) 150 at 159–60 (1833).
4. Ex parte Wells, 59 US (18 How) 307 at 311 (1855).
5. 274 US 480 at 486 (1927).
6. Pres Proc 4311, 30 Fed Reg 32601-02 (1974).
7. The New York Times (18 October 1974) at 18.
8. Jonathan Elliot, ed, The Debates of the State Conventions
on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, as
Recommended by the General Convention at
Philadelphia in 1787, 2nd ed (Philadelphia, 1836)