What grants US Presidents the power to give Presidential Pardons, and why can't (or don't) UK Prime-ministers do it?

  • 24
    Because it's a different country with different laws? I'm not sure how else to answer this question to be honest. It would probably be better to just reduce it to "Why can the U.S. President commute criminal sentences?"
    – user11249
    Jan 18, 2017 at 17:34
  • The U.S. Constitution gives the US President the power to issue pardons.
    – jalynn2
    Jan 18, 2017 at 17:55
  • 5
    Hint: Look higher en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_prerogative_of_mercy. Or lower (statutory pardon by the Parliament, mentioned in the link but seems that does not have its own page)
    – SJuan76
    Jan 18, 2017 at 17:56
  • 1
    @Carpetsmoker: Different countries, but with a shared legal root (Common Law)
    – MSalters
    Jan 18, 2017 at 22:08

1 Answer 1


The US President's Pardon-Power

The United States Constitution gives the President the ability to pardon criminal offences:

he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment [Source: Article II, Section 2.1]

Similar Powers in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom (and likely other Commonwealth nations) the monarch (or Governor-General, on their behalf) can pardon crimes through the royal prerogative of mercy.

As with many other powers of the royalty, in today's world it is only exercised at the request of the appropriate minister. In this case, it is the Secretary of State for Justice (or Defence, in military cases).

  • There is also a cultural difference. The prerogative of mercy is rare, and never as a political gift for one's allies. It is an exceptional part of the justice system. In the US it is a regular part of the justice system.
    – James K
    Jan 15, 2022 at 17:50

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