The Holden Pardon

Posted April 12, 2011

The state Senate voted 48-0 today to pardon the state's only impeached governor, Reconstruction-era Republican William Holden.  

The vote was held in the Senate Chamber in the historic State Capitol Building, built in 1840 - the same place where Holden was impeached and convicted by Democrats in 1871.  holden Pardon for impeached governor advances

Here's tonight's discussion from WRAL's 5:00 newscast. 

But will it stick?

Maybe, maybe not.

According to the legislature's statutory expert, Gerry Cohen, the pardoning resolution won't have the force of law unless the House approves it, too. The Senate convicted Holden, but it was the House that indicted him - that's what impeachment is. 

"The power of the pardon is vested in the General Assembly," Cohen explained, "not just in the Senate. It’s a joint resolution, so both chambers would have to pass it for it to be considered fully enacted." 

The House didn't take up the pardon today, and it's not clear whether it will.  Speaker Thom Tillis said Monday night that the Senate had moved forward with the pardon without consulting with his chamber. He said the House hadn't planned to take it up.  

Then again, as Cohen pointed out, the House has till next year sometime to consider it.  And even if it doesn't, “That doesn’t mean a Senate pardon wouldn’t carry any weight.”

You can watch the actual pardon vote below. Sorry about the audio issues – the Old Capitol wasn't exactly built for microphones or acoustics. Senate meets in Capitol Senate approves pardon for former governor


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