The guest editor’s introduction aims to provide an overview of Donald Trump’s extraordinary record of pardoning, and a road map to the essays in the Issue. Together the essays discuss ways to restore legitimacy to the pardon power and increase its usefulness to the presidency, by limiting some of the pardon power’s most extreme uses; supplementing the pardon power with statutory remedies so that the president is no longer personally responsible for so much routine criminal justice business; and managing the pardon power in a way that serves the presidency and not the parochial interests of federal prosecutors.

All of these ideas and arguments together suggest that the way to restoring pardon’s democratic legitimacy and usefulness to the president lies in shrinking the portfolio of routine chores for which pardon is now exclusively responsible, and in restoring the independence and stature of the pardon advisory process within the Justice Department. It would be both fitting and deeply ironic if Donald Trump’s irregular and undemocratic pardoning led to a more coherent and meaningful use of the constitutional power in the service of an enlightened presidential policy agenda, to a renewed commitment to the historically close relationship between pardon and the justice system, and even to a transformation of the Justice Department’s unforgiving prosecutorial culture.

This content is only available via PDF.