One question that I have related to the proposed legislative pardoning of impeached Gov. William Holden has to do with whether the General Assembly actually has the authority to pardon anyone.
Some senators are seeking to pardon Holden, a Reconstruction era governor, who was removed from office following the Civil War.
I called up a digital copy of the N.C. Constitution and searched for the word “pardon.” I get hits in two sections of the Constitution.
One is in the crime victims’ rights section, where a crime victim has the right to be notified of a pardon of the accused.
Another falls under the duties of the governor, where the governor has the power to pardon, except in cases of impeachment.
I find no where in the supreme law of the state where the General Assembly is given the power to pardon anyone.
The resolution pardoning Holden tries to address that issue.
It says that the power of pardon is inherent in the state, and since the Constitution does not delegate the power of pardon of an impeachment to the governor, it remains available for exercise by the General Assembly. It concludes:
“Whereas, the power of impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate is not evidenced by passage of legislation but by assignment of this power to the legislative branch, it is an inherent internal power of the legislative branch to reverse.”
Please forgive me if I cringe a bit when I hear the words “government,” “inherent” and “power” mentioned in close proximity.