For individuals seeking a legal method to prevent Donald Trump from returning to the presidency, consider lobbying President Joe Biden to pardon him.
Many Never Trumpers have long hoped that impeachment trials or court verdicts could prevent the former president from running again, but this approach is unlikely to succeed. Disqualifying offenders from public office in relation to the presidency may be unconstitutional since qualifications are specified in the Constitution.
A pardon, however, is different. Presidents can impose conditions, and accepting a pardon means agreeing to those conditions, which then become legally binding, provided they don’t demand illegal acts or are impossible to fulfill.
Suppose Biden offered Trump a pardon on the condition that he not seek public office again. If Trump accepted and later ran for office, the pardon would become invalid. Conditional pardons have been part of US political history for two centuries, and challenging their conditions has proven unsuccessful.
While some may argue that a pardon conditional on Trump not seeking office would infringe on his constitutional rights, presidents have frequently used pardons in ways that infringe on more established constitutional rights.
Conditional pardons have a lengthy history, their conditions are enforceable, and violating them nullifies the pardon. If Trump accepted a conditional pardon, he would be bound by its terms.
This suggestion is not an attempt to claim that the national crisis is over. Trump’s influence is unlikely to diminish anytime soon, with recent polls even showing him leading Biden. The key point is that those strongly opposed to Trump should advocate for a pardon.
MAGA supporters should remember that Biden can only offer the pardon; Trump can decline it. A president cannot impose a conditional pardon without the recipient’s consent, as this could be used to neutralize political enemies.
A pardon would test the convictions of both Trump’s opponents and supporters. Those who oppose him would need to choose between seeing him imprisoned or keeping him out of the Oval Office. If Trump accepted the pardon and its conditions, his supporters might question whether guilt lurks beneath his bravado.