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June 05, 2018


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Eric, I haven't seen this argument before either (though I too have not been following the issue particularly closely), but I really like it. I agree that nitpicking constitutional language shouldn't drive constitutional interpretation, but I think everyone agrees that text is an important factor. This especially seems to support the historical claim that the founders never thought the President had the power to corruptly us the pardon power to protect himself. Text and history aren't everything, but they are especially important for issues that have little to no precedent.

Joe Miller

The word "grant" appears 8 times in the original Constitution, including in the pardon clause. In all 8 cases, it has the outward/other-directed character you describe.

Joe Miller

Also, the word "grant" doesn't appear in any of the 27 amendments.

Eric Muller

And let us not forget that Ulysses S. Grant was an extrovert. Seems relevant.

Ralph D. Clifford

In property law, the common law disallows a "grant" of a property interest to yourself. Under the traditional view, if I executed a deed to myself, the deed was ineffective and conveyed nothing. Today, this usually came up when the grantor wants to create a joint tenancy between the grantor and another. If the granting language "Jane to Sally and Jane, as joint tenants with the right of survivorship" is used, the conveyance to Sally works, but not the one to Jane. Consequently, the unities of time and title are violated and the joint tenancy fails, leaving Jane and Sally as tenants in common.

The property concept against granting to oneself that was in place when the Constitution was drafted isn't completely irrelevant when you consider the importance of property interests in the Constitution and the belief by many judges that the framers' understanding of the common law control the Constitution's meaning. Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if the origin of the word "grant" came from property law.

Joe Miller

One of the 8 uses of "grant" in the Constitution is a reference to a grant of land. Specifically, Article III, Section 2 provides as follows: "The judicial Power shall extend to ... Controversies ... between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States."

Deep State Special Legal Counsel

DOUBT became reality on January 20, 2017, 12:01 pm, EDT.

U.S. Grant

But the Office of the President is doing the granting--an individual, Donnie Trump, is doing the receiving, right? Two different legal parties.


The charts of word usage show that "give myself" or "gives himself" were much more commonly used than "grant myself" or "grants himself." However, I think that is only the first part of the analysis. To prove the point attempted, I think you would also need to show that the proportion of the usage is substantially greater than the proportion of the usage of "give" vs. "grant."

As an example, if it turns out that from 1700 to 1850 or so, "give" and "grant" were used relatively equally then these graphs seem to be very persuasive evidence in support of the claim that grant denotes or connotes an outward act directed towards another. [Given the disparity shown in the charts, the analysis would still likely be persuasive even if "grant" were only used, say, 10 - 20% as often as "give."] However, if "give" is generally used much more often than "grant," during that time period, one would naturally expect "give myself" to also predominate over "grant myself" in roughly the same proportion and the analysis would not be as persuasive. For example, if the general ratio of "give" vs. "grant" is 100:1, we would also expect "give myself" to predominate over "grant myself" by a similar ratio, and we could not infer a different meaning for the word "grant" as argued in the post.

Unfortunately, I lack the time or inclination to run searches on "give" vs. "grant," which I assume will generate a huge number of results.

Deep State Special Legal Counsel

U.S. Grant^^^^You were just great, and I love winners, not losers, in that War of 1812 against Canada. Good thing you won buddy, cause I don't like fries with gravy. Clogs my arteries.

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