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WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is not supporting a bid to pardon Jack Johnson, the black heavyweight boxing champion who was imprisoned nearly a century ago because of his romantic ties with a white woman.

The department’s pardon attorney, Ronald L. Rodgers, tells Rep. Peter King in a letter that DOJ general policy is not to process posthumous pardon requests. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter Thursday.

Rodgers writes that the department’s resources for pardon requests are best used on behalf of people “who can truly benefit” from them. King, a New York Republican, sponsored a congressional resolution which urged President Barack Obama to pardon Johnson.

Rodgers noted that Obama still has the authority to pardon whomever he wishes.

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