West Virginia Law Review

Document Type



Article 57 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice states the President "may commute, remit, or suspend the sentence, or any part thereof, as the President sees fit. That part of the sentence providing for death may not be suspended." This seemingly contradicts Article 2 of the United States Constitution, which states that the President "shall have the power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment." This Article looks at whether the power to "reprieve" offenses includes the power to suspend sentences, including military sentences, and concludes that it does. The historical definition of "reprieve," historical practice of presidents, state court interpretations of similar language, and legislative history of Article 57 all indicate that the President may suspend sentences and Congress may not stop him. For practical reasons, challenging Article 57 would be difficult, but a court would likely declare it unconstitutional if a challenge was ever brought.



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