What Are the Judicial Powers of the President?

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The United States president’s judicial powers include nominating judges to the Supreme Court and granting pardons. The president can also shorten prison terms and grant amnesty.

The president of the United States is responsible, under Article II of the Constitution, to execute and enforce the laws that are created by Congress. To facilitate this, the president is responsible for appointing 15 cabinet members. Each cabinet member is the head of a department, such as the Department of Labor or the Department of Energy, which enforces these laws.

The president also nominates judges to the Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the country. The president's nominations must first be confirmed by the Senate.

The president can grant pardons, which legally forgive crimes and cancel penalties as well as reprieves. Whereas a pardon eliminates the legal consequences of a crime, a reprieve only postpones the sentence.

The president can also commute sentences that are already in effect, by reducing prison terms or lowering penalties. The only crime for which the president cannot grant a pardon is impeachment.

The president can grant amnesty, which is a legal pardon for a group that has committed treason, or a similar crime. The first presidential amnesty in the U.S. was granted by George Washington to the members of the Whiskey Rebellion.

The president's judicial powers are closely tied to his or her legislative powers. These include signing legislation into law and vetoing bills.