Dave Hardy points to a story coming out of Tennessee on the topic here. Dave mentions it’s a separation of powers question, as to whether the legislature can interfere with the Governor’s powers to pardon. I notice in the article there’s out-of-state issues too:
The attorney general opinion said that Tennessee does not recognize the pardons from anywhere in the country, including with the state, as grounds for restoring gun rights.
I would imagine that could also implicate the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Federal Constitution as well. There have been a few circuit court decisions on this, one of them in the fifth circuit, which is next door to the 6th, which Tennessee is in. There they ruled that full faith and credit is implicated in pardons, and that the state in which the pardon is issued is controlling:
Next we reach the question whether Louisiana may constitutionally refuse to give the same effect to a pardon granted by another jurisdiction that it would give to its own pardon under the Habitual Criminal Act. We are of the opinion that this would violate no constitutional principles. There is clearly no question here of a violation of the full faith and credit clause, since Louisiana has given the same effect to a Missouri pardon that a Missouri court would give it.
That implies there could be a FFAC issue, I think, but it would depend in the state in which he was pardoned, and whether they had a similar provision to Tennessee. The Circuit Court of Appeals implies in this case that no more credit need be given than is given in the pardoning state. In another neighboring Circuit, the 7th, they ruled differently. This case actually involves firearms law, but it’s a bit different, because it involves the federal consequences of a conviction versus a state pardon. Not state consequences of a conviction versus a pardon from another state:
In his complaint, plaintiff characterizes the refusal to license him as a failure to give full faith and credit to the Montana pardon. Article IV, 1 of the Constitution, concerning ‘public acts, records, and judicial proceedings,’ speaks only to the states. By statute federal courts must also accord full faith and credit to state legislative acts and judicial records and proceedings. 28 U.S.C. 1738. However, it is open to question whether the full faith and credit clause extends to requiring a state court to treat a sister state’s pardons as eradicating guilt for the purpose here involved, even if the issuing state gives them that effect.
This seems to me to be very much an open issue, and it would be interesting to see a case like this go forward. In the case of someone who was convicted and pardoned in Tennessee courts, that would be solely a state issue, but in the case of someone moving to Tennessee who was pardoned by the Governor of another state, you bring federal issues into play under FFAC.
UPDATE: Dave Hardy has more thoughts here.