John McCain Still Trying to Get a Pardon for Boxer Who Died Almost 67 Years Ago

Jack Johnson
Senator John McCain's still calling for President Obama to pardon former boxing great Jack Johnson, who died almost 67 years ago.

McCain and New York Congressman Peter King have tried several times to get Johnson, who was black, pardoned for a 1913 conviction he earned after being prosecuted under the Mann Act for dating a white woman.

See also:
-John McCain Still Wants Boxer Jack Johnson Pardoned

Specifically, Johnson was convicted of "transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes," which landed him in prison for a year.

In 2009, Congress actually passed this resolution, but no action was taken by the president.

The Justice Department informed McCain that it doesn't hand out pardons to dead people, but McCain and company didn't really like that answer -- so here we are.

"We can never completely right the wrong perpetrated against Jack Johnson during his lifetime, but this pardon is a small, meaningful step toward acknowledging his mistreatment before the law and celebrating his legacy of athletic greatness and historical significance," McCain says in a press release.

In the grand scheme of things, there were many, many more black men who got screwed over by racist laws worse than Johnson did, and seeing as McCain represents a state that passed SB 1070, vindicating a dead boxer for dating a white woman might not be number one on the curing-racism checklist.

McCain also has Democratic Senators Harry Reid and Mo Cowan supporting his resolution this time around.

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McCain would be a boxing fan he so blood thirsty!


"The Justice Department informed McCain that it doesn't hand out pardons to dead people, but McCain and company didn't really like that answer -- so here we are."

The Justice Department doesn't hand out pardons to anyone. The President of the United States hands out pardons. All the Justice Department does is process formal pardon applications and make recommendations to the President. It may be the Justice Department's policy not to process applications for posthumous pardons, but the President can make a posthumous pardon if he wants to. The President isn't limited to following Justice Department pardon recommendations at all.

The previous two Presidents have made at least one posthumous pardon each. Bill Clinton pardoned Lt. Henry O. Flipper, the first African American graduate of West Point who had been convicted by a court martial on trumped up charges related to missing money. Flipper died in 1940. George W. Bush pardoned Charles Winters who died in 1984. Winters had been convicted of helping Israel obtain B-17 bombers in violation of the Neutrality Act of 1939.

McCain isn't doing something unprecedented.


While it's a very nice thought, it is a waste of time and resources that have priority.


On another note, did anyone see the news about Montgomery, AL police chief Kevin Murphy issuing a public apology and badge presentation to Congressman John Lewis for the failure of the Montgomery police department to protect the Freedom Marchers from being attacked by white mobs in 1961.  Truly a historic and moving moment with great symbolic value.  While pardoning Jack Johnson may not cure all evils or be the most important step in ending racism, it does have symbolic value and that should not be overlooked.  It is also one of the least kooky things that Senator McCain has done or said lately so it should be welcomed for that reason as well.

danzigsdaddy topcommenter

if McCain wanted to right a wrong, why doesnt he start with something still fresh and something local. if he wants to do something to correct a wrong perpertrated against someone by the law, Marty Atencio would be a good place to start among many numerous others. championing Marty would be pretty decent John, he did fight for our country you know, and being a vet yourself, I thought you would maybe have a little compassion for the guy. Not trying to detract from the justice that Johnston deserved, but Marty's is still a fresh wound that needs to be addressed too. all the people involved in Johnston's case are dead, in  Marty's case they are still alive (except for Marty) and still able to perform their miscarriages of justice 

danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@PeekyP    I did not know some of this stuff and found it extremely interesting, thanks for including this info (not being a smart-ass, i really enjoyed reading this)

ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

@JohnQ.Public  Senator McCain should pardon those in his own state -- a "prison" state -- where the non-violent, first offenders are sentenced to 75 years. A defacto life sentence. 


@truthseekeraz Senator McCain doesn't have the power or authority to pardon anyone. Read PeekyP's comments above for a prime in how the system works.

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