In addition to the fact that Ali's conviction was eventually overturned, President Jimmy Carter issued a blanket pardon for draft evaders in 1977. So does the boxing legend need a pardon? I'm thinking about that seriously.
President George W. Bush (R) presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civil award, to boxer Muhammad Ali in the East Room of the White House 09 November 2005 in Washington, DC.
He said, "Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?" But his real motive seems to be pardoning his favorite person of all - himself.
Trump appears to be on a pardoning spree.
Last month, Trump granted a posthumous pardon to another boxer, Jack Johnson, the first African-American world heavyweight champion, who served 10 months in a federal prison after being convicted of taking a white woman across state lines.
In his first use of that power, Trump spared a former Arizona sheriff, Joe Arpaio, the prospect of serving jail time after a conviction stemming from his use of immigration patrols that focused on Latinos.
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When Ali appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court for the final time in 1971, liberal stalwart Justice William Brennan convinced his colleagues to hear the case.
Ali was born Cassius Clay, though he changed his name after converting to Islam in the 1960s. Ali once presented Trump with a humanitarian award in 2007, but later opposed Trump's proposed Muslim ban.
Ron Tweel, Ali's lawyer, pointed out that Ali has no criminal record.
And of the 3,000 applications he's considering, O.J. Simpson is not one of them, he said. "Better than any celebrity I could pardon".
"He was, look, he was not very popular then, certainly his memory is popular now", Trump told reporters as he prepared to leave the White House on Friday en route to a Group of Seven economic summit in Canada. "I want to do people who are unfairly treated like Alice [Marie Johnson]". "And he wasn't very popular then", Trump said. But the pardons are a very positive thing for a president.