“Biscuits” and “Gravy” are two regular, ole “toms” who represent the 45 million turkeys “condemned” to be Thanksgiving dinner this week. Specially selected for their beauty, Biscuits and Gravy were coddled, cared for, flattered and fed by the Tomfool Wattle Eco-Foods Farms for their “judgment” day. Unlike their fellow toms, Biscuits, as the representative of the condemned, and Gravy, his first alternate, will be presented to the President of the United States to be “pardoned” from their Thanksgiving dinner judgment. Then he will be swept off to spend the balance of his days at Frying Pan Park. Should the excitement of being pardoned be too great for Biscuits, then Gravy will be his stand in for the Presidential pardon.

Background. Since 1947 the National Turkey Federation and the Poultry and Egg National board give a turkey to the President of the United States at a White House ceremony. Except in 1963 when President Kennedy said about his turkey, “Let’s just keep him,” Presidents were more likely to eat the turkey than grant it a reprieve. It was not until Thanksgiving 1989 that a turkey was officially pardoned by a United States President (George H.W. Bush).

Authority. Article 2, section 2 of the United States Constitution provides “[T]he President …shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” To fully understand what a pardon does, first consider that when a person is convicted of a felony, in addition to facing incarceration, he loses his civil liberties – the right to vote, to serve on a jury, to own a firearm. In Texas, conviction of a felony may also prevent that person from: holding public office or any office of profit or trust, serving as the executor or administrator of an estate, holding an occupational license, receiving a Texas tuition assistance grant, or operating a currency exchange business. Living without certain rights is referred to as civil disability. A full pardon places the legal and civil status of the convicted back to where it was before the crime was committed – it’s as if the crime never took place, as far as the law is concerned.

Pardon me, too. Notable Presidential pardons include: Andrew Johnson pardoned soldiers who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War, subject to some conditions; Patty Hearst was pardoned by Jimmy Carter for bank robberies committed while being kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army; Iva Ikoku Toguri better known as “Tokyo Rose”, an American citizen convicted of treason after World War II, served 10 years in prison before a reporter exposed trumped up charges and she was pardoned by Gerald Ford; tax evader Marc Rich best known for leaving his 1040 blank to the tune of $50 million was pardoned by Bill Clinton; and Caspar Weinberger convicted of illegally conducting arms sales with Iran to fund the Contra rebel guerilla army in Nicaragua, was pardoned by George H.W. Bush.