The Supreme Court refused Monday to consider whether a presidential pardon completely clears a person's past, restoring an individual's right to vote, have weapons or practice law.
Justices rejected an appeal from William A. Borders Jr., a former criminal defense attorney who was convicted of conspiracy more than two decades ago in a Miami racketeering case.
Borders thought his record was cleared when he received a pardon on President Clinton's final day in office in 2001. But an appeals court said he could not get back his license to practice law in Washington.
Borders' lawyers told justices that a lower court "imposed draconian restrictions on the president's pardon power, potentially rendering the exercise of that power a purely symbolic act."
They argued that a presidential pardon "blots out" a conviction and related punishments.
Among Borders' lawyers was former solicitor general and independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who investigated the Whitewater real estate deal and Monica Lewinsky scandal during the Clinton administration. In this case he was defending Clinton's pardoning power.
Borders, 64, spent three years in prison. He was arrested in 1981 after taking $125,000 in bribe money from a former FBI agent posing as a racketeer awaiting sentencing in the court of then-U.S. District Judge Alcee Hastings. Hastings was acquitted of criminal charges and now serves in Congress.
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